Ethel Spowers was among the artists who brought modernism to Australia. The daughter of a newspaper proprietor, she had the means to travel and in doing so, enrolled in London’s Grosvenor School of Art. Here, she studied under Claude Flight, who engineered the resurgence on printmaking in the twentieth century. Under him, artists like Spowers would come in part, to define art in the interwar period. A salve to the wounds of conflict, their work is supple, dexterous and a celebration of modern life.
In her role, Spowers distilled scenes grand and intimate. Attuned to the rhythm of art, her layered silhouettes recall Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock printing. In ‘Durham Cathedral’, this influence is clear. Considered one of the finest examples of Norman Architecture in Europe, it has been the setting of pivotal moments throughout history and is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
In his account of cathedral, author Nathaniel Hawthorn muses - "I paused upon the bridge, and admired and wondered at the beauty and glory of this scene...it was grand, venerable, and sweet, all at once; I never saw so lovely and magnificent a scene, nor, being content with this, do I care to see a better." In Spowers’s delicate rendition, this sentiment beams, allowing you too, to pause and take in the view.
Created during her studies under Flight, ‘Durham Cathedral’ is an rich modernist work. An edition of it is represented at the National Gallery of Australia and it was included in museum’s 2011 travelling exhibition, ‘In the Japanese manner: Australian prints 1900 –1940’. Once underrepresented in art history, Spowers is among the legion of women who have only recently been awarded their rightful prestige. Endowed with a childlike wonder, Spowers is not only a celebrated artist, her work is delight to behold.
Ethel SPOWERS (1890 - 1947)
'Durham Cathedral' 1924
woodcut on paper
Edition of 20
Image Size: 18 x 21 cm
Dimensions: 33 x 36 x 1 cm
Signed: signed lower right below printed image in black pencil, 'E.L. Spowers'. not dated. Titled lower left below printed image in black pencil, 'Durham Cathedral'.
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Woodcut, printed in colour in the Japanese manner, from five blocks on oriental style paper. Undesignated impression from edition of 20. Accession no NGA 80.935
Availability: in stock
Condition:Good: Describes the average used work of art where the image is in Fine condition. The margin may need to be framed out due to markings, corner wear, dog ear, small tears or if framed, the frame may have minor damage.
© The Artist or Assignee