ANNE DESMET R.A.

30 YEARS OF COLLAGED ENGRAVINGS


A Retrospective Exhibition

25th May – 25th June 2022

Since 1990 collage has been an important part of Anne Desmet’s practice as a printmaker. This exhibition focuses on the innovative way her collages are conceived, showing them alongside editions of the prints that were used to make them. Covering her major projects and the key subjects that have inspired her throughout her career, the exhibition is a substantial retrospective of her work to date.


PRIVATE VIEW

Tuesday 24th May 5 – 8pm


ANNE DESMET – IN CONVERSATION
with Tom Edwards
In the Gallery and Online
Wednesday 8th June at 6pm

Please contact the gallery if you would like to attend or sign up for the online broadcast.



AN INTRODUCTION

to the Exhibition from David Morris
Formerly Head of Collection, The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

Anne Desmet is one of the most original talents in contemporary artist-printmaking, and only the third wood engraver ever to be elected to the Royal Academy. She brings to her prints and mixed-media collages a unique imagination and an abundance of skill and technical expertise. Deriving from the early inspiration of Metamorphoses, the Roman poet Ovid’s passionate tales of human and divine shape shifting, and Mondrian’s sequential images of cherry trees gradually transmuted into abstracted designs, Anne Desmet’s work has consistently displayed a fascination with time, transformation, and their relationship to lived experience. Central to her work since 1989 has been an unblinking examination of human aspiration through the depiction of architecture and the building of cities. The resulting images go well beyond view making, with her most arresting works exploring themes of endurance, change, transformation, regeneration and re-integration in human experience and social space. Much of her work is also shot through with a playful approach to ideas, materials, and techniques, which means her well-honed skills are worn lightly.

Anne Desmet began her career by following a traditional printmaking training in wood engraving and linocut at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University and at the Central School of Art and Design, London. In 1989-90 she won a Scholarship in Printmaking at the British School in Rome, an inspirational year, where her distinctive depiction of the layered and evolving nature of architecture and the urban landscape originated and developed. In 1991 she returned to Oxford University to do an MA in Fine Art.  Throughout these years of study and experimentation, Anne Desmet’s respect and admiration grew for the work of female artists involved with the British Print Revival in the twentieth century, particularly Clare Leighton, Monica Poole, and Gertrude Hermes. Works by these distinguished female artist-printmakers have featured at Abbott and Holder over the years and Anne Desmet’s prints are of a similar high technical standard.  Furthermore, she has extended the expressive potential of wood engraving and linocut, both technically through collage and in subject matter, to create a unique style and vision, which will both surprise and delight the gallery’s audience.

Throughout her career Anne Desmet has worked primarily with relief printmaking, particularly wood engraving and linocut. The former can be seen as a conservative medium of expression, but Desmet’s work has consistently reinvigorated the tradition and her urban focus has signalled her resistance to following the long tradition of ruralist imagery associated with wood engraving. Since 1990 she has also produced many collages that incorporate images cut up and recycled from proofs of her wood engravings and lino blocks, skilfully combined with other hand-applied media such as pen and pencil drawings, gold leaf, street-map fragments, redundant banknotes, and marbled papers. These are glued onto various surfaces including archival card, painted wood, seashells, roofing slate, ceramic tiles, ceramic bowls, convex glass domes and fragments of glass and mirror to create unique artworks of great diversity and complexity. These works are both visually and conceptually rewarding, combining original creative ideas with beauty and precision in the material expression of the finished image. It is these collages that form the focus of this exhibition.

Since Braque and Picasso incorporated cut-out sections from newspapers and printed wallpaper into their Cubist paintings from 1912, the technique of collage has become central to the idea of visual modernity and has been widely used by artists wishing to bring elements of the physical world into their work or to reflect on the fragmented and malleable nature of modern experience, consciousness, and memory. 

Anne Desmet’s first collage was a marvellously affecting Self Portrait (1990), made during her year at the British School in Rome and constructed from torn fragments of an earlier wood engraving from 1989. Cutting up or tearing up proofs of wood engravings was a direct challenge to the ideas of the integrity of the block and the printed image which Desmet had encountered in her traditional printmaking training.  Her view on this is, “I suppose in relation to wood engraving I’m both a rule obeyer and a rule breaker.”

Collage offers Desmet a vital and necessary extension to her work as a printmaker, giving the possibility of responding to fast-moving creative thoughts, a way of re-configuring ideas and moving forward more quickly, in contrast to wood engraving where a large single block may take weeks, or even months to complete. Desmet’s working process of selecting elements from past works to include in new collages, parallels the fragmentary, malleable, nature of memory, and reflects on how we constantly construct and re-construct our memories to tell ourselves new stories that reflect our present concerns.

Here, in early 2022, after two years of pandemic and precariousness, it seems we are in the process of re-thinking our relationship with cities and the urban environment.  During the first and most intense lockdown I saw deserted mid-day city streets in Manchester and London, empty cityscapes, an eerie pre-figuring of a possible but unwanted future. In her prints and mixed-media collages Anne Desmet has been thinking about and working through ideas about human experience and the urban scene for more than thirty years and now, with our newly shifting perspectives on the city, it is the right time again to take a close look at her remarkable body of work.

David Morris
February 2022





THE EXHIBITION

This exhibition is arranged into seven sections. Each represents a theme or area of interest that has inspired Anne’s work over the years. Her collages are largely made from proofs of her own prints. So, each section begins with a group of collages followed by a selection of prints that were used in making them.



1. INSPIRED BY THE VICTORIA BATHS


Almost all of the linocuts and wood engravings in this group were inspired by Manchester’s Victoria Baths – an extraordinary Piranesi-esque semi-derelict “water palace” opened in 1906 and closed in 1993. Its architects were clearly inspired by the Grand Tour, the architecture of Rome and decorative motifs from France. The collages that Anne developed from the prints are intended to convey something more of the atmosphere of the building recalling its mosaic floor tiles, stained glass windows and their distorting reflections, ceiling glass, echoes of water and the way in which the building’s three separate pools, each with its own separate entrance hall, create an impression of kaleidoscopic repetition. Anne used details from red-brown prints of the unrelated “Domus Aurea” linocuts in one of these collages in order to emphasise the way in which the building strongly suggests Ancient Roman grandeur and decay. Many of these works were shown in her retrospective exhibition: “Anne Desmet: Urban Evolution” at the Whitworth Art Gallery and touring UK (2008-10)


COLLAGES

Inspired by the Victoria Baths


  • 1. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Floor Reflection’. Wood-engraving & linocut on paper collaged on mirror shard. 2007. Signed and titled. 2.5×3.5 inches. Framed: 8.25×8.25 inches.
    £450
  • 2. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Fish Floor II’. Monotype, linocut, wood-engraving, Manchester street map, pen & pencil drawing collaged on roofing slate. 2008. Signed and titled. 13×21 inches. Framed: 13.25×21.25 inches.
    £1,400
  • 3. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Glimpsed Fragment’. Wood-engraving on paper collaged behind semi-silvered glass. 2007. Signed and titled. 1.5×2.25 inches. Framed: 8.25×8.25 inches.
    £450
  • 4. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Repeat till Fade’. Wood-engraving collaged on found paper. 2008. Signed and titled. 11×19 inches. Framed: 19.25×27 inches.
    £2,000
  • 5. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Stairwell Grid Lines’. Linocut on paper collaged on 30 mirror-glass tesserae collaged on museum board. 2008. Signed and titled. 14×8 inches. Framed: 24×17 inches.
    £1,400
  • 6. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    'Wallflower'. Wood-engraving, linocut & small mirror collaged on Nepalese Lhokta paper. 2008. Signed and titled. 17"x17" inches. Framed: 24.75"x24.75" inches.
    £3,000
  • 7. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Tiles and Tesselations I’. Linocut & wood engravings on paper collaged on 45 ceramic mosaic tiles. 2007. Signed and titled. 9×5 inches. Framed: 19×14 inches.
    £1,500
  • 8. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Window and Water’. Wood-engraving on paper collaged on 3 ceramic wall tiles. 2007. Signed and titled. 7.25×2.5 inches. Framed: 15.25×8 inches.
    £800
  • 9. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Tiles and Tesselations II’. Linocut & wood engravings on paper collaged on 45 ceramic mosaic tiles. 2007. Signed and titled. 9×5 inches. Framed: 19×14 inches.
    £1,500

PRINTS

Inspired by the Victoria Baths

NOTE: We have multiple impressions of many of the prints in this exhibition. If you are interested in a print marked ‘Sold’, please contact the gallery to check availability.


  • 10. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Dark Stairwell VBM’. 2-colour reduction linocut on Gampi Vellum paper. 2007. Signed, titled and editioned 1/25. 23.5×8 inches. Framed: 34.75×17.25 inches.
    £700
  • 11. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Light Stairwell VBM’. 2-colour reduction linocut on Gampi Vellum paper. 2007. Signed, titled and editioned 2/35. 23.5×8 inches. Framed: 34.75×17.25 inches.
    £700
  • 12. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Light and Water VBM’. 2-colour reduction linocut on Gampi Vellum paper. 2007. Signed, titled and editioned 3/15. 23.5×8 inches. Framed: 34.75×17.25 inches.
    £740
  • 13. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Deserted Pool VBM’. 2-colour reduction linocut on Gampi Vellum paper. 2007. Signed, titled and editioned 11/30. 23.5×8 inches. Framed: 34.75×17.25 inches.
    £700
  • 14. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Domus Aurea I’. Linocut on Kozu paper. 1990. Signed, titled and editioned 5/12. 16×11 inches. Framed: 23.25×16.25 inches.
    £550
  • 15. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Domus Aurea II’. Linocut on Kozu paper. 1990. Signed, titled and editioned 4/12. 16×11 inches. Framed: 23.25×16.25 inches.
    £550
  • 16. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Passage of Light’. Wood-engraving on Zerkall paper. 2007. Signed, titled and editioned 34/40. 4×3 inches. Framed: 12×10.25 inches.
    £350
  • 17. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Shades of Memory’. Reduction wood engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 2007. Signed, titled and editioned 3/7. 4×15 inches. Framed: 12×23.25 inches.
    £590

2. INSPIRED BY LONDON


Anne Desmet has lived in London continuously since 1990 (directly following a year in Rome as a Rome Scholar in Printmaking) and the city’s development and ongoing construction, degeneration and reconstruction has become an ongoing theme – from the British Museum’s extraordinary re-configured Great Court, from the early 2000s, through to the interior of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) which houses (as sculptural wall decoration high up near the ceiling of its great Gallery 3) the original angel bas-reliefs on which her recent engravings and collages are directly based. Anne is only the 3rd ever artist elected as a wood engraver to the Royal Academy of Arts and these angels felt especially topical in the first year of the pandemic lockdown, when she began to make them, and they remain a poignant motif now. Meanwhile, the collage “Days of Uncertainty” (2010) recalls the global economic crisis in the winter of 2009/10 allied with stormy/snowy weather in London, while “Two London Churches” (2018) is a collaged response to “Skylines (London)” (2013), which features some of the artist’s favourite London landmarks engraved on tiny boxwood roundels presented as if glimpsed in passing or viewed through binoculars, perhaps from an open-topped bus.


COLLAGES

Inspired by London


  • 18. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Angel Fragment I’. Wood-engraving on paper with gold leaf collaged on 2 pottery shards. 2021. Signed and titled. 3.5×3 inches. Framed: 6.75×6.75 inches.
    £990
  • 19. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Days of Uncertainty’. Wood-engraving & gold leaf collaged on lino print (from found floor lino) on Kozu paper. 2010. Signed and titled. 32×25 inches. Framed: 45.25×36.25 inches.
    £2,500
  • 20. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Angel Fragment II’. Wood-engraving on paper with gold leaf collaged on 2 pottery shards. 2021. Signed and titled. 4×3.5 inches. Framed: 6.75×6.75 inches.
    £990
  • 21. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘British Museum Diagonals’. Wood-engraving on paper collaged on card. 2005. Signed and titled. 10×11.5 inches. Framed: 20.5×22 inches.
    £1,900
  • 22. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘British Museum Horizontals’. Wood-engraving on paper collaged on card. 2005. Signed and titled. 8.5×15 inches. Framed: 20.5×26 inches.
    £1,900
  • 23. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘British Museum Verticals’. Wood-engraving & linocut on paper collaged on card. 2005. Signed and titled. 8×12.5 inches. Framed: 20.5×26 inches.
    £1,900
  • 24. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Triptych for Our Times’. Wood-engraving on Gampi paper collaged on stencil-printed Somerset paper with pen and pencil. 2020. Signed, titled and editioned 5/30. 8×6.5 inches. Framed: 18.25×14.25 inches.
    £550
  • 25. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Two London Churches’. Wood-engraving prints on paper collaged on 2 mirrored glass shards. 2018. Signed and titled. 2×2 inches. Framed: 9×9 inches.
    £550

PRINTS

Inspired by London

NOTE: We have multiple impressions of many of the prints in this exhibition. If you are interested in a print marked ‘Sold’, please contact the gallery to check availability.


  • 26. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘British Museum Series 4’. Wood-engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 2005. Signed, titled and editioned 14/30. 7×10 inches. Framed: 15.25×18.25 inches.
    £680
  • 27. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘New House’. Wood-engraving on China White paper. 1993. Signed, titled and editioned Artist Proof/20. 3×2 inches. Framed: 9.75×7.5 inches.
    £250
  • 28. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Skylines (London)’. 11 wood engravings on Gampi Vellum paper. 2013. Signed, titled and editioned 24/60. 3×21.5 inches. Framed: 8×30.25 inches.
    £550
  • 29. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Tower of Angels’. 8 wood engravings on Gampi Vellum paper. 2020. Signed, titled and editioned 3/30. 20.5×4 inches. Framed: 33×31.5 inches.
    £690

3. INSPIRED BY LONDON’S OLYMPIC SITE


Anne Desmet lives quite close to London’s Olympic Park and, as her work has long been involved with themes of metamorphosis in architectural terms, which can encompass change, decay and regeneration, having this extraordinary construction/redevelopment project almost on her doorstep was too perfect an opportunity to resist. She made a substantial body of wood engravings of the developing Olympic site based on onsite sketches and photographs. These provided the material for more inventive interpretations of the nation’s mood of hope and anticipation in the build-up to the London Olympics, and also involve her own thoughts about the history, traditions and legacy of the Games. The circular form of the Olympic stadium directly emulates that of equivalent ancient arenas such as Rome’s colosseum, which features in the collage “2000 Years of Stadia” (2012). These prints and collages are selected highlights from a larger body of work which comprised an exhibition entitled “Anne Desmet: Olympic Metamorphoses”, which toured UK public galleries throughout 2012.


COLLAGES

Inspired by London’s Olympic Site


  • 30. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘2000 Years of Stadia’. Wood-engravings on London A-Z map pages collaged on roofing slate. 2012. Signed and titled. 5.5×18 inches. Framed: 12×23.25 inches.
    £1,900
  • 31. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Fragile Hope’. Wood-engravings on Gampi Vellum paper collaged on 6 razor shells on museum board. 2012. Signed and titled. 4.5×5.5 inches. Framed: 12×13.5 inches.
    £1,400
  • 32. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Interchange/Transformation’. Wood-engravings on Gampi Vellum paper collaged on museum board. 2010. Signed and titled. 4×24 inches. Framed: 12.75×34.5 inches.
    £1,900
  • 33. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Olympic Memory’. Wood-engraving on paper collaged behind 12 glass cubes. 2010. Signed and titled. 3×5 inches. Framed: 11×12.75 inches.
    £1,400
  • 34. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Olympic Site Map: Metamorphosis’. Wood-engraving printed on London A-Z map pages collaged on 75 ceramic mosaic tiles. 2010. Signed and titled. 5×15 inches. Framed: 14.75×24.25 inches.
    £1,900
  • 35. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Perimeter Fence Hackney’. Wood-engraving on paper collaged on slate. 2010. Signed and titled. 7.5×10 inches. Framed: 13×17 inches.
    £1,200
  • 36. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Seismic Shift’. Wood-engraving on paper collaged on slate. 2010. Signed and titled. 5.5×9 inches. Framed: 13×17 inches.
    £1,200

PRINTS

Inspired by London’s Olympic Site

NOTE: We have multiple impressions of many of the prints in this exhibition. If you are interested in a print marked ‘Sold’, please contact the gallery to check availability.


  • 37. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Hackney Olympic Site II’. Wood-engraving & stencilling on Gampi Vellum paper. 2009. Signed, titled and editioned 4/15. 4×5 inches. Framed: 12.75×14.75 inches.
    £400
  • 38. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Olympic Site in Construction II’. Wood-engraving & stencilling on Gampi Vellum paper. 2009. Signed, titled and editioned 15/18. 4×6 inches. Framed: 12.75×14.75 inches.
    £400
  • 39. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Olympic Stadium with Cranes I’. Wood-engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 2009. Signed, titled and editioned 30/50. 4.25×6 inches. Framed: 12.75×14.75 inches.
    £450
  • 40. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Olympic Velodrome in Construction’. Wood-engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 2010. Signed, titled and editioned 17/30. 3.75×5 inches. Framed: 12.75×14.75 inches.
    £450

4. INSPIRED BY THE TOWER OF BABEL AND PIRANESI


Anne Desmet was artist-in-residence at Eton College in 2016 where “Library Dome”, “Chapel Tower”, “Looking Up” and “Towers and Tudor Chimneys” (all 2016) were among new engravings she created in response to the College’s architecture. Whilst there, she worked with the College’s graphic design department – using Photoshop to create new digitally-collaged compositions based directly on her wood engravings. These experiments culminated in the lithographs, “Urban Jungle” and “Rotunda x 20” (both 2016) and, later, the digital print “Uncharted Terrain” (2021). “Urban Jungle” uses repeated elements from “Towers and Tudor Chimneys” to present an invented panorama redolent of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast and hints at deforestation/urban development and global warming. “Rotunda x 20” recycles assorted domes and rooftops – from a Roman temple to St Paul’s Cathedral to Eton College’s Library – to create a Piranesi-esque architectural capriccio. “Uncharted Terrain” was made in response to the global pandemic. It recalls the Tower of Babel – a recurrent theme in Anne’s work and frequent symbol of potential catastrophe, in contrast with echoes of London’s Olympic year in 2012, a time of hope and optimism. Rome’s colosseum – a glorious piece of architecture with a grisly history – also features in this piece, which is intentionally full of contrasts of mood moving between hope and anxiety. “New Metropolis” (2002) and “Incongruous Monolith” (2001) are earlier collages which relate to her interest in the Tower of Babel. Here, printed wooden type forms Babel-esque structural forms embellished with diverse architectural elements from London and Rome.


COLLAGES

Inspired by the Tower of Babel and Piranesi


  • 41. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘New Metropolis’. Printed wooden type, linocut, wood engraving & collage on various papers. 2002. Signed and titled. 30×8 inches. Framed: 41×16.5 inches.
    £2,500
  • 42. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Incongruous Monolith’. Printed wooden type, linocut, wood engraving, pencil drawing & collage on paper. 2001. Signed and titled. 30×7.25 inches. Framed: 41×16.5 inches.
    £2,500
  • 43. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Rotunda x 2’ 4-plate lithograph on Somerset Satin paper. 2016. Signed, titled and editioned 2/25. 29×8 inches. Framed: 37.25×15.25 inches.
    £740
  • 44. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Uncharted Terrain’. Digital print on Somerset Satin paper. 2021. Signed, titled and editioned 24/25. 29×8 inches. Framed: 37.25×15.25 inches.
    £740
  • 45. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Urban Jungle’. 4-plate lithograph on Somerset Satin paper. 2016. Signed, titled and editioned 9/25. 29×8 inches. Framed: 37.25×15.25 inches.
    £740

PRINTS

Inspired by the Tower of Babel and Piranesi

NOTE: We have multiple impressions of many of the prints in this exhibition. If you are interested in a print marked ‘Sold’, please contact the gallery to check availability.


  • 46. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘A Slice of Rome’. Linocut & collaged wood engraving on paper. 1991. Signed and titled. Trial Proof 1 (Edition of 10 sold out). 6×8.5 inches. Framed: 15.25×16.75 inches.
    £650
  • 47. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Library Dome’. Wood-engraving on Japanese paper. 2016. Signed, titled and editioned 5/30. 5.5×4.5 inches. Framed: 12×11.5 inches.
    £470
  • 48. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Babel Tower in Pieces’. Wood-engraving & linocut on Zerkall paper. 1999. Signed, titled and editioned 32/45. 3×4.25 inches. Framed: 12.75×12.75 inches.
    £350
  • 49. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Bishopsgate, London’. Linocut on Kozu paper. 1996. Signed, titled and editioned 13/40. 13×7.25 inches. Framed: 22.25×15.75 inches.
    £690
  • 50. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Chapel Tower’. Wood-engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 2016. Signed and titled. Artist Proof 1 (Edition of 30). 6.25×1.25 inches. Framed: 13.25×7.75 inches.
    £350
  • 51. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Excavations, Early Evening’. 2-block linocut on Kozu paper. 2000. Signed, titled and editioned 3/40. 24×8 inches. Framed: 34.75×17.25 inches.
    £940
  • 52. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘London Olympic Velodrome Site’. Wood-engraving & stencilling on Gampi Vellum paper. 2010. Signed and titled. State Proof (Edition of 50 sold out). 4×5 inches. Framed: 12.75×14.75 inches.
    £550
  • 53. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Looking Up’. 11 wood engravings on Gampi Vellum paper. 2016. Signed, titled and editioned 12/20. 4×25.25 inches. Framed: 8×30.25 inches.
    £550
  • 54. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Olympic Shadows’. Wood-engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 2011. Signed and titled. Artist Proof from edition of 100. 4×5 inches. Framed: 12.75×14.75 inches.
    £550
  • 55. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘St Paul’s: Lights’. Wood-engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 2014. Signed, titled and editioned 21/30. 9×7 inches. Framed: 15.5×11 inches.
    £500
  • 56. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Towers and Tudor Chimneys’. Wood-engraving on Japanese paper. 2016. Signed, titled and editioned 4/30. 5×4.25 inches. Framed: 14×10.75 inches.
    £500

5. INSPIRED BY SOANE, ITALY AND THE GRAND TOUR


In 2012 Anne Desmet was an exhibitor in the 3-person Arts-Council-funded exhibition “Sense of Soane” at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing – the former country house of the architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837). The 3 artists’ shared intention was to bring back a sense of Soane to the Manor to generate a strong echo of the mood of the Sir John Soane Museum in London’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields and thus to reflect Soane’s own Grand Tour and his extensive collection of historic architectural fragments. To this end, Anne began creating collages behind roundels of clock glass to recall directly the numerous convex glass mirrors of the Soane Museum and to suggest an idea of Soane’s memories of the Grand Tour presented like reflections in mirrors. She has continued to use this tondo format to this day. The use of clock glass and the construction of related works directly within small mantel clocks such as “Moonlit Afternoon” (2015) also hints at the passage of time between our times and the days of Ancient Rome. These roundels are all capricci inspired by Anne’s diverse engravings reflecting her own travels in Italy and New York and her life in London. This grouping also includes one of Anne’s earliest collages, “Folding/Unfolding” (1990), which recalls her travels from India to Italy as an Indian palm tree gradually metamorphoses into a fragment of Roman architecture.


COLLAGES

Inspired by Soane, Italy and the Grand Tour


  • 57. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘In Search of New Worlds’. Linocut & wood engraving prints collaged on paper under convex glass. 2018. Signed and titled. Dia.13 inches. Framed: 20.25×20.25 inches.
    £6,950
  • 58. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Moonlit Afternoon (clock)’. Wood-engravings & monotype prints collaged on paper under convex glass clock face of wooden Napoleon Hat clock dating from c.1920s, with linocut & wood engraving prints on paper presented as a cut-out 3d construction behind the clock’s hinged wooden door at the back. 2015. Signed and titled. 9x17xD5.25 inches.
    £2,900
  • 59. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Constructed Space I’. Wood-engraving & monotype prints on paper collaged on convex glass. 2013. Signed and titled. Dia.7 inches. Framed: 13.25×13.25 inches.
    £2,600
  • 60. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Constructed Space II’. Wood-engravings, linocut & monotype prints on paper collaged on convex glass. 2013. Signed and titled. Dia.7 inches. Framed: 13.25×13.25 inches.
    £2,600
  • 61. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Folding/Unfolding’. Wood-engraving & linocut collaged on semi-transparent, pleat-folded, Japanese paper. Signed and titled. 5×15 inches. Framed: 7.5×21.75 inches.
    £990
  • 62. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Constructed Space III’. Wood-engravings & monotype prints on paper collaged on convex glass. 2013. Signed and titled. Dia.7 inches. Framed: 13.25×13.25 inches.
    £2,600
  • 63. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Reaching for the Moon’. Linocut, wood engraving & lithographic prints collaged on paper under convex glass. 2018. Signed and titled. Dia.13 inches. Framed: 20.25×20.25 inches.
    £6,950
  • 64. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Sculpture Garden’. Linocut, lithograph & wood engraving prints & found papers collaged on paper under convex glass. 2018. Signed and titled. Dia.13 inches. Framed: 20.25×20.25 inches.
    £6,950
  • 65. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Three Ages Past’. Wood-engraving, lithograph & monotype prints collaged on paper under convex glass. 2018. Signed and titled. Dia.11 inches. Framed: 20.25×20.25 inches.
    £4,600

PRINTS

Inspired by Soane, Italy and the Grand Tour

NOTE: We have multiple impressions of many of the prints in this exhibition. If you are interested in a print marked ‘Sold’, please contact the gallery to check availability.


  • 66. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Architectural Salvage, Hoxton’. Wood-engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 1996. Signed, titled and editioned 20/40. 3×3.75 inches. Framed: 11.5×12.75 inches.
    £350
  • 67. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Forum’ (by Anne Desmet & Roy Willingham). Wood-engraving on Zerkall paper. 1994. Signed, titled and editioned 43/50. 3×4 inches. Framed: 10.25×12 inches.
    £350
  • 68. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Indian Palm Tree’. Wood-engraving on Japanese paper. 1987. Signed, titled and editioned 6/12. 4×4 inches. Framed: 10.75×12.25 inches.
    £330
  • 69. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Manhattan Rain’. Wood-engraving & linocut on Zerkall paper. 2017. Signed, titled and editioned 4/20. 7.5×8 inches. Framed: 15.25×16.75 inches.
    £595
  • 70. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Rotunda x 4’. 4 wood engravings on China White paper. 1993. Signed, titled and editioned 24/40. 4×13 inches. Framed: 13.25×23.5 inches.
    £500
  • 71. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘QEH’. Wood-engraving & linocut on Gampi Vellum paper. 1998. Signed and titled. Artist Proof 37/42 (from commissioned edition of 420). 4×5.25 inches. Framed: 10.75×12.25 inches.
    £450
  • 72. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Piazza S Pietro’. Wood-engraving on Basingwerk Parchment paper. 1990. Signed and titled. State proof (Edition of 20 sold out). 3×3 inches. Framed: 12×10.25 inches.
    £330
  • 73. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Progress/Progression? VII’. Wood-engraving on Basingwerk Parchment paper. 1989. Signed and titled. State Proof (never editioned). 3×3 inches. Framed: 12×10.25 inches.
    £330
  • 74. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Progress/Progression? VIII’. Wood-engraving on Basingwerk Parchment paper. 1989. Signed, titled and editioned 15/20. 3×3 inches. Framed: 12×10.25 inches.
    £330
  • 75. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Poolside Reflection’. Wood-engraving & collage on Japanese Kozu & white Zerkall papers. 2006. Signed, titled and editioned 30/40. 4×3.5 inches. Framed: 13.5×12.25 inches.
    £400
  • 76. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Bergamo (fragments). 5 wood engravings on China White paper collaged on Japanese Kozu paper. 1992. Signed, titled and editioned 7/25. 11.25×3.25 inches. Framed: 18.75×9.5 inches.
    £690
  • 77. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Matera Towards Evening’. 2-block linocut on Somerset Satin paper. 2000. Signed, titled and editioned 5/40. 24.03×8 inches. Framed: 24.75×17.25 inches.
    £940
  • 78. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    'Reconstructing the Ruins'. 13 wood engravings on China White paper. 1992. Signed, titled and editioned 34/40. NFS. 17×1.75 inches. Framed: 24.75×8 inches.

6. INSPIRED BY THE GREEK ISLANDS


In 2019 the Royal Academy published a facsimile sketchbook of Anne Desmet’s drawings of the Greek islands, which she had made between 1984 and 2018. (This was a follow-up to their 2016 publication of a facsimile sketchbook of 25 years of her Italian drawings). The Greek book was launched at Long & Ryle Gallery, London, with a small exhibition of Anne’s related Greek collages, highlights of which are included here. The collages include “Greek Ghosts” (2019), one of her most striking uses of razor clam shells as a substrate for a work on paper, used to evoke a sense of the fragility of our world. Other works here, such as “Grecian Sky” (2019), comprise wood engraved prints on paper collaged on the concave surfaces of a series of small glazed ceramic bowls. They are a direct foil and complement to Anne’s works under convex glass surfaces. “Panorama” (1995) is an engraving directly inspired by one of her Italian sketchbook drawings but is included in this group because elements of its Mediterranean architecture have been repurposed for use in the “Grecian Sky” collage.


COLLAGES

Inspired by the Greek Islands


  • 79. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Grecian Sky’. Wood-engraving & found papers collaged on glazed ceramic bowl. 2019. Signed and titled. Dia.3.5 inches. Framed: 9×9 inches.
    £900
  • 80. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Greek Ghosts’. Wood-engraving on paper collaged on 21 razor shells. 2019. Signed and titled. 5.25×20 inches. Framed: 14.75×28.5 inches.
    £3,900
  • 81. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Greek Island V’. Wood-engravings on paper collaged on ceramic bowl. 2015. Dia.3.25 inches. Framed: 11.25×11.25 inches.
    £550
  • 82. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Greek Island VI’. Wood-engravings on paper collaged on glazed ceramic bowl. 2019. Signed and titled. 4×5 inches. Framed: 9.25×10.25 inches.
    £900
  • 83. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Greek Island VII’. Wood-engravings & linocut on paper collaged on glazed ceramic bowl. 2019. Signed and titled. Dia.3.25 inches. Framed: 9.25×9.25 inches.
    £800

PRINTS

Inspired by the Greek Islands

NOTE: We have multiple impressions of many of the prints in this exhibition. If you are interested in a print marked ‘Sold’, please contact the gallery to check availability.


  • 84. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘End of Empire’. Wood-engraving, stencil & pochoir on Gampi Vellum paper. 2018. Signed, titled and editioned 10/30. Edition sold out – only a few unframed proofs available with slightly different tones. 5×7 inches. Framed: 12.75×14.75 inches.
    £440
  • 85. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Panorama’. 9 wood engravings on Zerkall paper. 1995. Signed, titled and editioned 2/40. 5×14.75 inches. Framed: 13.25×23.5 inches.
    £590
  • 86. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Pelagos Revisited’. Wood-engraving, linocut & pochoir. 2019. Signed and titled. ii/xx from 2nd edition (1st ed. of 40 was part of an artist’s book – sold out). 4×3 inches. Framed: 12×10.25 inches.
    £350
  • 87. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Pelagos’. Wood-engraving on Basingwerk Parchment paper. 1986. Signed and titled. Artist Proof (from edition of 10). 4×3 inches. Framed: 12×10.25 inches.
    £330
  • 88. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Pelagos II’. Wood-engraving on Basingwerk Parchment paper. 1986. Signed and titled. Artist Proof (not editioned). 4×2 inches. Framed: 12×10.25 inches.
    £330

7. INSPIRED BY WOOD-ENGRAVING


In 2020, the Society of Wood Engravers marked its centenary. In that year, the Ashmolean Museum held the exhibition “Scene through Wood: A Century of Modern Wood Engraving”, curated by Anne Desmet and currently touring other UK museums until spring 2023. Anne’s first retrospective exhibition, “Anne Desmet: Towers and Transformations” was curated by and launched at the Ashmolean in 1998 (before touring to seven other UK museums in 1998-99) so the curating of “Scene through Wood” built on her already strong relationship with the Ashmolean, which holds a substantial body of her prints and collages in its permanent collection. Another celebratory exhibition to mark the SWE centenary was planned by Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections Library (unfortunately it was cancelled because of the pandemic). Earlier that year, however, the Library had commissioned Anne to create “Wood Engraver’s Tower” (2020) as the intended poster image for that exhibition and as a reference and tribute to the art of wood engraving over the last 100 years. The engraving also contains autobiographical references to Desmet’s life and her interests as an artist, most notably recalling one of the Tower of Babel paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-69). The foreground tower was developed from a still life of relevant small objects, which Desmet assembled in her studio – a significant departure from her more familiar outdoor-architecture-related subject matter. The related brand-new collage “Ambitions and Blind Alleys” (2022) uses elements of “Wood Engraver’s Tower” to create a reflective work looking back over the artist’s career and speaking to the hopes and dreams we all share.


  • 89. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Wood Engraver’s Tower’. Wood-engraving on Gampi Vellum paper. 2020. Signed and titled. 11.75×9.75 inches. Framed: 20.75×18.25 inches.
    £680
  • 90. Desmet R.A., Anne (born 1964)
    ‘Ambitions and Blind Alleys’. Wood-engravings collaged on painted wood panel. 2022. Signed and titled. 8.07×5.63 inches. Framed: 14.5×11.5 inches.
    £1,700

Scene through Wood: A Century of Modern Wood Engraving
curated by Anne Desmet

will be at the Heath Robinson Museum, Pinner, 10 Sep – 11 Dec 2022
and at
St Barbe Museum, Lymington, 25 Feb – 23 April 2023.


A BIOGRAPHY OF THE ARTIST


Anne Desmet was born in Liverpool, UK, in 1964. She gained a BA & MA at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Printmaking at Central School of Art and Design, London, UK. She has taught wood engraving widely, inc. at the RA Schools, British Museum and Middlesex University and is a former External Examiner in Fine Art at Aberystwyth University and at Kingston College of Art. In 2011, Desmet was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts and is only the third wood engraver ever elected to the RA in its entire history. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE) and the Society of Wood Engravers (SWE). In 2018, she was elected an Honorary Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford.

Anne’s retrospective exhibition, Anne Desmet: Towers and Transformations, opened in 1998 at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, before touring the UK. In 2008, Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery launched a new retrospective: Anne Desmet – Urban Evolution, which toured until 2010. Her exhibition: Anne Desmet – Olympic Metamorphoses toured the UK from 2010-12. Desmet’s prints feature in selected solo and group shows worldwide. Since 1987 she has received over 40 national and international awards including (1989-90) a British School at Rome Scholarship in Printmaking. She has had 20 solo shows in London since 1990.

Anne was editor of Printmaking Today (from 1998-2013) – the quarterly journal of international graphic art. She is author of Anne Desmet: A Greek Journey (2019) and Anne Desmet: An Italian Journey (2016). Anne is co-author of Handmade Prints (2000), author of Primary Prints (2010) and co-editor of Printmakers – the Directory (2006) all published by A&C Black (see Bloomsbury). Other publications include: Anne Desmet: Towers and Transformations – catalogue raisonné (Ashmolean Museum, 1998); Private Views: Artists working today (Serpent’s Tail, 2004); Wood Engraving and the Woodcut in Britain c.1890-1990 (Barrie & Jenkins, 1994); The Times, RA Magazine, Art Review, Art Monthly, Burlington, The Guardian and The New York Times.

Anne is curator/author of Scene through Wood: A Century of Modern Wood Engraving, an Ashmolean Museum touring exhibition with fully illustrated catalogue (2020).

Commissions include engravings and drawings for the Royal Mint, V&A, British Library, British Museum, National Gallery, Sotheby’s, The Times, Vital Arts (London) NHS Trust, Worcester College & Balliol College Oxford and Oxford University Press.

Public and private collections holding her work include the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; V&A, National Art Library, The Museum of London, British Museum, British Library, London Metropolitan Archive – all London; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; Pallant House, Chichester; Manchester University; School of Art & Museum, Aberystwyth Univeristy; University of the West of England; Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate; Bradford Museums & Art Galleries; Ex Libris Museum, Moscow, Russia; Musée d’Art Contemporain, Chamalières, France; Ostrobothnian Museum, Vaasa, Finland; Lahti Art Museum, Finland; Museu de Arte do Espirito Santo, Vitoria, Brazil; Municipal Art Gallery, Lodz, Poland; Museo Civico, Cremona, Italy; The National Grid PLC; Slaughter & May, London and IMG Corporate, New York, USA.

CLICK HERE FOR A CONDENSED CV