Clare Leighton’s ‘New England Industries plates for Wedgwood
The artist Clare Leighton (1898-1989) was best known for her wood-engravings illustrating rural life in England, Europe and the USA. She illustrated over 65 books, as well as writing and illustrating her own books such as ‘The Farmer’s Year: A Calendar of English Husbandry’ (1933) and ‘Four Hedges: A Gardener’s Chronicle' (1935). Many of her images were concerned with images of labour, reflecting her own rigorous work ethic, and interest in the rhythm of figures in motion. She studied at Brighton College of Art and the Slade School, and Central School of Arts and Crafts, and later emigrated to the USA, becoming naturalised citizen in 1945.
In 1952 Leighton was commissioned by Wedgwood to create a series of 12 wood engravings to be transfer-printed onto dinner plates. These were on the theme of traditional industries in New England, including Maple Sugaring (associated with Vermont and New Hampshire), Whaling (associated with Massachusetts, especially Nantucket), Marble Quarrying (Vermont), Lobstering (Maine) and Cranberrying (Massachusetts), amongst others such as Grist Milling, Ice Cutting, Cod Fishing, Ship Building and Logging. At the base of each image Leighton featured the tools of the trade, such as whale harpoons, cranberry scoops, lobster traps, anchors and scythes. Several of the original wood blocks, as well as the wood engravings and plates will be on display as part of the exhibition ‘Clare Leighton: Working Life’ at Pallant House Gallery this winter.
Clare Leighton: Working Life is in the De’Longhi Print Room at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester UK from 10 December 2013 - 24 February 2014 www.pallant.org.uk/exhibitions