Jonathan Gibbs has been putting together his drawings, paintings and prints for exhibitions in London and Edinburgh. ‘Life is But a Dream’ currently fills two rooms of the Open Eye Gallery. At Curwen and in the Open Eye, commissioned engravings and studio pieces have been intermingled in a display of his current practice.
He just has completed seven wood engravings for John Donne’s The Baite, printed with Lawrence’s letterpress ink in Venetian Red onto a Japanese paper: Arakaji Natural.
These images form an abstracted and symbolic interpretation of Donne with one or two narrative references to the human figure with birds in pursuit of fish; or vice-versa.
Who is chasing whom?
Jonathan’s Landmarks illustrations for Robert Macfarlane are shown, as are those for Claxton.
The ‘Learning to Swim’ woodcut is a change from wood engraving, to give broader marks and a different expressive scope with mallet and chisel.
It employs a version of the Chine-Collé process.
Jonathan carved the big woodblock in his garden last autumn. It is a de-commissioned diving board. This remained in the orchard until its transportation to the gallery in Gus’s big trailer on the long and winding road from Humbie to Edinburgh.
During childhood car trips, ‘Row, row, row your boat’ was sung frequently by the Gibbs family: Jonathan with his siblings in the back and parents up front.
His oil paintings on wooden panels explore pictorial space, architectural structures and organic forms.
The four ‘bed’ drawings represent reality, with rumpled sheets, a story, and a view to the water. However, it is also a place of dreams and a reflected reality: a white room, suspended in time, where life stands still. Beyond the shutters is the distant glitter of a foreign sea and the evening ferry draws in from the mainland.
‘Life is but a Dream’ is open until Monday 25th January at the Open eye Gallery, Edinburgh.