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City Gallery City Gallery Wellington

Past exhibition

John Buckland Wright: Acid and Graver

23 July–15 August 1982

Windswept skies, skirts blown up, winged horses, devils and satyrs seducing nymphs, and bathers paddling and dressing at the beach ... Acid and Graver is an show of ninety-six prints by the illustrator and engraver John Buckland Wright. The title refers to tools printmakers use to cut into their printing plates.

Buckland Wright was born in Dunedin in 1897, but moved to England when he was eleven. He studied history at Oxford, and spent much of his time drawing at the Ashmolean Museum. He briefly trained in architecture, but didn't enjoy it. In 1924. he became fascinated by the engraving tools on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He bought a set of his own engraving tools and 'found himself'. He illustrated numerous books, especially of poetry. In 1940, he was one of three engravers to represent Britain in the Venice Biennale. His work is held in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, Paris' Bibliotheque Nationale, and London's British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum. He died in England in 1954.

The show includes etchings and engravings lent by Buckland Wright's son plus book illustrations. The works demonstrate the artist's remarkable facility and control. Richard Gainsborough writes, 'His attitude to the figure is frank, free and luscious, like no other Englishman since Etty, but he combines bodies into rhythmical patterns in which the limbs conform to the design and do not impose upon it.'