All these prints work well as abstract compositions, interesting arrangements of contrasting textures, strong lines and bright whites, wriggling nature interacting with the man-made order of the canal structure. Eric's work pulls the two together, pushing growth patterns into the brickwork and formalising trees and clouds into nature's architecture. Each scene has a liveliness of its own and a good-humoured vitality. Try looking at any of them upside down and they still have that abstract visual power - sparkling rhythms, dancing sunlight, swooping curves, stately bars and steps marching up the page. Try it.
But each print is actually a record of a recognisably precise place, some iconically well known to the canal traveller like Stoke Bruerne or Chirk aqueduct, others less so like Dean Locks near Wigan. Rather fittingly for the transport subject each picture is something of a journey in itself, from an exploration of the gravel or bricks underfoot, past the lockbeams and bridges, leading us into a sunlit and generally hopeful distance. Perspective may be pushed and planes flattened for the pattern making but Eric's translation of each scene through the medium of the linocut print presents us with a whole new set of images, however familiar some of these places are to the canal enthusiast. For the uninitiated they are an invitation to explore the world of waterways, to join the friendly trees peeping over the hedge or the battalions of Eric's cupid clouds cavorting in the sky. OK, let's go and explore.
Tony Lewery, Ellesmere, 2009
Eric Gaskell was born in Wigan, England in 1957 and studied painting and printmaking at Wigan College and Sunderland University. He left art college in 1980 winning two painting scholarships, one to New York and one to Istanbul, as well as the Sunderland Fine Art prize.
“I was brought up near canals swimming and fishing in them as a child, and watching the coal barges chug past. I wanted to produce a series of works from all over the canal system, but in a different light to the traditional canal drawing or painting.
I believe the graphic nature of the varying elements that make up the canal environments best suits a simple, bold linoprint style. The textures and patterns of the pathways, trees and lock gates, the swirling waters as the locks empty, the calm as they wait to be used, and the buildings and bridges that give our canals a backdrop. All these elements twist and blend to create simple yet striking prints.
Each linoprint is handcut, handprinted, numbered
and signed, by me.”
"I think your work is amazing"
"My parents have been boating since the late 1950's... your linocuts make an excellent present for them"
"It arrived very quickly and was even nicer than I had imagined"
"I just did a web search... and happened to meet your wonderful work. I'm amazed. Wonderful, wonderful"
"Thank you for your inspiring book, what a talent!"
"Your lino cuts are very striking and will make a great present for a relative who is a massive narrowboat fan"
"I found your Linocut work and am very impressed with everything you do and have bought your book"
"You sent me kindly a copy of the lovely Canal linocuts book - I have a
couple of friends who are interested in having one too - could I order
"I'm so looking forward to having the book as the linocuts are fantastic - so evocative."