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David Frazer and Friends, Wood Engravings at Tooth and Nail

Home > Adelaide > Art | Exhibitions | Free | Workshops
by Julia Wakefield (subscribe)
I'm passionate about art, poetry, the English language and all things maritime, and I also love drawing: Join the Fight for the Reef!
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There's always room on your wall for these tiny works of art

wood engraving, David Frazer, woodblock, printmaking, inking
David Frazer, 'Another Night on Earth', wood engravin

A few months ago I wrote about the amazing Tooth and Nail Gallery/Workshops which loves to host the latest ideas in contemporary art, focusing on printmaking and especially screenprinting.

Tooth and Nail's latest exhibition is just as contemporary, but the printmaking technique it features goes back more than two centuries. I first came across wood engraving in the prints of Thomas Bewick.

Thomas Bewick, wood engraving, Tooth and Nail, exhibition, owl
Owl, wood engraving by Thomas Bewick (Wikipedia Commons)

He used metal engraving tools on the endgrain of wood to produce fine lines (the blocks for woodcuts are made from the length of the wood, so the wood grain is often visible in the printing and it is harder to carve with precision) reviving the art of printing with wood which had suffered since the invention of metal engraving. Endgrain blocks are always very small, averaging around 2 x 5 cm, because they are made from small hardwood trees such as cherry or boxwood. Australian trees are not usually suitable, so the blocks you can buy here are imported from England or America.

copper engraving, Martin Droeshout, William Shakespeare, Tooth and Nail, wood engraving exhibition
William Shakespeare, copper engraving by Martin Droeshout (Wikipedia commons)

These days, wood engraving is a rare and specialised art. There are very few Australian artists who specialise in the technique, so we are privileged to have an exhibition of the work of David Frazer currently at Tooth and Nail.

David Frazer, Tooth and Nail, wood engraving
'Hug', wood engraving by David Fraze

David gave two workshops in the technique, one at ACA in Light Square and one at Tooth and Nail, and the participants were all invited to exhibit their work at Tooth and Nail.

wood engraving, David Frazer, woodblock, printmaking, inking
David Frazer inking a woodblock
printing, press, wood engraving, ACA, workshop
Preparing to print - the woodblock is placed face up on the press bed, then the printing paper is placed over it. The 'packing' of folded scrap paper on top helps to make a crisper print

printing press, relief printing, wood engraving, workshop, David Frazer, ACA
It takes a lot of effort to push the bed under the press! Then the handle is pulled from right to left and the whole weight of the press descends on the little woodblock.

wood engraving, David Frazer, woodblock, printmaking, inking
This is just one example of the prints that were produced in the one day workshop, by students with little or no previous experience of wood engraving

In addition, there are wood engravings by former students of David's as well as by some of the small number of South Australian artists who already practise this craft. The exhibition is curated by Simone Tippett and Deborah Prior.
Simone Tippett, wood engraving, exhibition, Tooth and Nail
Simone Tippett opening the exhibition at Tooth and Nail

The craft remains as fresh now as it was in the eighteenth century, as new artists are finding new ways to re-interpret traditional methods.Go and explore, enjoy and be intrigued by this fascinating medium, and make sure you bring your wallet to take advantage of the extremely reasonable prices of the works on show. We hope David may be persuaded to come back and run more workshops next year, so if you fancy trying your hand at this new medium then get in touch with Simone at Union St Printmakers.

David Frazer, Tooth and Nail, wood engraving
'Friends and Lovers', wood engraving by David Fraze
The Gallery is not taking commission even from David Frazer's work, so this is a chance not to be missed. But hurry! The show is open Mondays to Fridays, 10am - 5pm, but it finishes on March 21.
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Why? Affordable little works of art follow a historic tradition
When: Monday-Friday 10am - 5pm
Phone: 0432 924 938
Where: Tooth and Nail, 22-28 Coromandel Place, Adelaide 5000
Cost: Free
Your Comment
What a truly stunning article! When someone asks, "How did you spend your weekend," how delightful to say, "Oh, just a spot of wood engraving."
by Max Flynn (score: 1|61) 2410 days ago
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