The following is an excerpt from the show catalog for Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers:
Peter Lawrence is the current chairman of the Society of Wood Engravers and his business experience has made him a very successful one. Since 1998 he has been Managing Director of Oxford Designers & Illustrators, having worked as an educational book designer since 1978. His inspirations, from the time he was studying Graphic Design at Bristol, have been Pop Art and jazz. Pop, with its use of collage, suggests links back to Cubism (and collage) and the particularly British branch of modernism known as the St. Ives School. A common factor is the manipulation of abstract geometric shapes on a flat surface, sometimes with collaged items or passages of painterly handling but mostly with the world alluded to rather than directly depicted. Pete’s prints may contain dozens of small images of different kinds, diverse handlings, textural areas; each is a little exhibition in itself, if not a gallery.
He began engraving in 1990 and keeps it as an area of personal pleasure and exploration, nothing to do with the day job. Often based on places he has been on holiday, maps and spatial memories provide a template into which other impressions can be fitted. His prints to date are all one-offs, but there are two strands represented within this exhibition.
Montpelier, Time and Space and Four Quartets are abstract – products of the imagination with no reference to anything that has existed before. Montpelier consists of two blocks, and was originally put together differently. Time and Space is four blocks cut and printed five times. Four Quartets is one block, cut further after each printing.
Transform, St. Ives, Way Out West and Five for England are designed to work as abstracts overall but use the idea of collage, with engravings in different styles embedded into the whole, again using more than one block.
The Gallery, Level 2: Abstraction may look like the first group but actually belongs to the second. The lift door suggests scale; five ‘pictures’ hang on the wall of the gallery within a mural design. And this, Pete’s ‘single’ image within the format of this exhibition, will be in fact the first of a series, with further ‘levels’ to come.