Building the New Rick

Woodcut, signed bottom right and titled lower left
Edition 17/50
Image size: 5 3/4 x 6 3/4 inches (14.5 x 17 cm)
Contemporary frame and mount

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This is a charming scene that shows the building of a rick by a group of thatchers. The remit of thatchers at this time was to cover and protect more than the dwelling house or barn. Their most important role was the annual protection of next year’s food and fodder. Ricks were rectangular stacks of hay, straw and corn that were built in the field. Once the rick had been constructed the top was then thatched with straw and reed to protect it from the elements.

The woodcut has been achieved with the artist carving away the image onto the surface of the block of wood, often with gouges, as can be clearly seen here in the non-printing areas of the design.

The Artist

The artist was known for her book illustrations and woodcuts. Gwendolen White is an often overlooked artist from the last century. Biographical information is hard to find however it is known that she was born in Exeter in 1902 or 1903 and she studies at the Bournemouth School of Art and the Royal College of Art. Between 1933 and 1946 she was a regular illustrator of Enid Blyton books and in 1940 she illustrated ‘A Book of Toys’ that was published as part of the prestigious King Penguin series and in 1954 she illustrated ‘A Book of Pictorial Perspective’.

The artist’s woodcuts and illustrations have a charm and humour about them, proving that she was an expert in the subtle art of arranging objects on a page.