Ethel Spowers is best known for her modernist colour linocuts produced while she was a student with Claude Flight at the Grosvenor School in London from 1929. Prior to these studies, she had been known as a fantasy artist and children's illustrator, producing colour lino- and wood cuts printed in the Japanese manner. Spowers made only four wood engravings, all while she was in London between 1929 and 1932. Their size and monochromatic appearance contrast with her linocuts of same the period, but share something of their emphasis on repetition, dynamic movement and simplification of form. Spowers repeated the composition of 'The plough' three times; in addition to this wood engraving, she made two colour linocuts, 'The plough' 1928 and 'Birds following a plough' 1933.
wood engraving, printed in black ink on thin ivory laid tissue paper
'sample' print from edition of 20
10.1 x 15.7 cm blockmark; 18.7 x 26.8 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "E.L. Spowers. 29".
Not on display
Shown in 7 exhibitions
Animals on paper: from the Australian collection of prints, drawings and watercolours:
Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Jul 1994–25 Sep 1994
Review: works by women from the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Mar 1995–04 Jun 1995
Australian prints from the Gallery's collection (1998-1999), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Nov 1998–07 Feb 1999
Heaven on Earth: Visions of Arcadia, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, 01 Oct 2005–27 Nov 2005
BloodLines: art and the horse, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Windsor, 02 Aug 2007–14 Oct 2007
Modern impressions; Australian prints from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Sep 2016–Jan 2017
Referenced in 6 publications
Renée Free, Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1994.
Jane Hylton, Modern Australian women: paintings & prints 1925-1945, 'Coming home: the influences on Australian modernism', pg. 44-61, Adelaide, 2000, 46 (colour illus.), 124. Collection of Art Gallery of South Australia
Grahame Kime., Heaven on earth: Visions of arcadia, 'Visions of Arcadia', Gymea, 2005. List of works; not paginated
Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 65 (colour illus.). cat.no. 54
Hendrik Kolenberg, Animals on paper - from the Australian collection of prints, drawings and watercolours, Sydney, 1992. cat.no. 78
Anne Ryan, Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2007, 81 (colour illus.). cat.no. 122