Editor’s note: As we were putting the final touches on this story it was confirmed that Le Morte d’Arthur and Landscape with Figure and Sacred Well will be shown in the 2014 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art.
“Le Morte d’Arthur is based on Thomas Mallory’s 14th century collection of tales relating to King Arthur, and also the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
I’m fascinated by connections between aural traditions and the British landscape. There is a sense of prehistory in old place names and early monuments. Le Morte d’Arthur is part of a series of prints exploring these ideas, in which the figure is contained in and imprinted onto the landscape, symbolising our connection to it.
I have been relief printing for about 25 years, but still feel I’m exploring the process and have a lot more to learn.
I generally start with small drawings, just ideas thrown on to paper. Some of these ideas I scale up into larger drawings. I’m very interested in composition, creating a flow through the image. Once I’m happy with the drawing, I reverse it and transfer it onto the lino ready to start cutting. I use a separate lino block for each colour, the colour separation being worked out at the drawing stage.
For me there is a very close relationship between the printmaking process and drawing, in that I am asking a limited number of colours to achieve a desired effect without the use of a key block.
The key block is generally the last block to be printed, usually a dark colour, creating the line work around the shapes in the image. My prints rely instead on a balance of shapes and tones worked out through repeated drawings.
As this series has developed I have used texture to soften the graphic look that is so characteristic of linocuts and to impart a more painterly quality to the final image. In Landscape with a Figure and Sacred Well, the figure is almost entirely textured using caustic soda and then scratched with the cutting tool. The distressed surface connotes erosion, which adds another dimension to the artwork by suggesting the passage of time. The use of texture also introduces an element of chance, offsetting the hard-edged graphic look and fairly controlled process of cutting with steel gouges and knives.”
Profile of the artist
Melvyn Evans SGFA has been a professional illustrator and printmaker since 1992. Originally trained as a marine engineer, he began a foundation course at Carmarthen College of Art in 1981 and went on to complete a BA (Hons) degree at Exeter College of Art and Design. Melvyn moved to London to study at Goldsmiths College, and took up drawing classes at the Royal College of Art under the tuition of Bryan Kneale RA.
Le Morte d’Arthur was selected for the National Open Art Competition exhibition in 2013, and in 2014 both Le Morte d’Arthur and Landscape with Figure and Sacred Well were selected for the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art.
Melvyn joined the Society of Graphic Fine Art in 2011 and won the Serco/AoI Prize for Illustration Silver Award in 2013. For more about Melvyn and his art please visit his web site at www.melvynevans.com and his blog melvynevans.blogspot.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @Melvyn_Evans_
The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art runs from 9th June till 17th August 2014 www.royalacademy.org.uk
Association of Illustrators www.theaoi.com