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Of a Feather - An Avian Alphabet at Bankside Gallery

20/05/2008, By

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 3589 votes


'An Admiration…that should be the collective noun for gallery visitors to Colin See-Paynton's Of a Feather exhibition, for this has been an extraordinary enterprise. The work has drawn on many years of patient and exultant observation, the accumulation of knowledge that allows the imagination to be accurate in the mind's eye.

Not since Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) have both literary and pictorial aspects been found conjoined in the one talent as in this project, where Colin See-Paynton has both written about and made the plates for an illustrated lexicon of the collective nouns for birds’ writes David Alston, Arts Director, Arts Council of Wales in the introduction to the exhibition catalogue. The project has taken Colin nearly four years to complete and is probably unique in showing exclusively an entire ensemble of newly created wood engravings.

The sixty-one wood engravings that make up the series take us through the alphabet – ‘Abandonment of Cuckoos’, ‘Gaggle of Geese’, Tiding of Magpies’, ‘Zephyr of Long-tailed Titmice – these are just some of the titles that make up the complete and wonderfully poetic alphabet of collective nouns that together with Colin See-Paynton’s text will be published as the book Of a Feather by the Gregynog Press in 2008.

Sir David Attenborough, who has written the foreword to the book writes, ‘Colin See-Paynton has introduced yet another vision to the rich tradition of wood engraving. His delight in the lines of a bird so elegantly inscribed by the cut of his graver, his skill in varying texture even though he only has black and white with which to do so, his palpable pleasure in composing his subjects into joyous designs have brought something new to the portrayal of birds. It is a true privilege to provide these few words to introduce them’.

It had been a cherished and enduring dream of Colin’s that he might one day have the wherewithal and the time to produce a thematic series of prints, a body of fresh new engravings which he could steadily assemble and eventually publish in totum preferably in the form of a beautifully made book. His aim was also to create images that would be strong enough to justify their presentation in an exhibition. This is that exhibition, ‘Of a Feather’ and it represents the realisation of that long held dream.

Colin See-Paynton is a Fellow of the Royal Cambrian Academy, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and a member of the Society of Wood Engravers. He is widely regarded as the leading exponent of wood engraving in the United Kingdom and his work is represented in many private and public collections worldwide including the V & A, The Ashmolean Museum, Berlin Graphothek, Freemantle Museum & Art Gallery, Australia, The National Library of Wales and The National Museum and Galleries of Wales.

3rd to 15th June
Bankside Gallery
48 Hopton Street
London SE1 9JH
+44 (0)20 7928 7521
Open daily 11 am to 6 pm

Image 1 - A Tiding of Magpies
Image 2 - A Gaggle of Geese II
Image 3 - A Walk of Wagtails

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