Thomas Bewick Engraver & the Performance of Woodblocks

Highlights of the review by Simon Brett in the Society of Wood Engravers journal Multiples, May 2021.

‘If artists of today want to learn anything from Bewick’s foundational handling of the medium, this is where they will find it’.

‘The reader bounds along, hardly realizing how much information is being absorbed’.

‘Bewick’s black and white images, processed in colour, have never looked better’.

‘For many engravers, and for non-engravers who want to understand history from a participant’s point of view, it will be essential and well worth its weight’.

‘The beautiful layout of the book by Susan Wightman at Libanus Press deserves all praise’.

Multiples, May 2021

Corrigendum Multiples August 2021

Highlights of the review by Peter Quinn in The Journal of The Bewick Society, Cherryburn Times Summer 2021

‘Thomas Bewick Engraver & the performance of woodblocks, comes in two forms: standard and special. The beautifully printed, cloth bound standard edition looks fairly ‘special’ to this reviewer’.

‘This book presents a highly individual approach to the subject matter and as such it is a refreshing new resource in our understanding of Bewick’.

‘It is much to the author’s credit that he manages to avoid the pitfalls of an overly technical manual on the printing of historic wood blocks’.

Cherryburn Times, Summer 2021

Highlights of the review by Kirsty Anderson in Children’s Book History Society Newsletter No. 130

“The best executed Wood cut, will appear as an ugly blot in the hands of a bungling Pressman – & in general they are of that character and know nothing about the meaning of giving a print its proper Effect.” So wrote Thomas Bewick to his friend Philip Harrison on 11 May 1792. Graham Williams has devoted much of his life to striving after this proper effect’.

‘Overall the book is handsomely designed and printed and makes a fitting tribute to the skill of a master engraver whose genius so far outstripped the printing expertise of his own day’.

Children’s Book History Society Newsletter, September 2021

Highlights from the review by Jan Conway in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society, Third series, Number 2 2021

‘This book does not seek to replicate previous research. It is the first of three connected publications by the author concerned with the hand-printing of wood engravings’.

‘his subject is the development of Bewick’s skills as an artist and an artisan and his own decades-long research into how Bewick’s woodblocks can still be brought to life’

‘This is an important, indeed definitive, work on the performance of Bewick’s woodblocks. It is a perceptive narrative of Bewick’s life and skills, resulting from many years of dedicated and meticulous research’.

Journal of the Printing Historical Society, Third series, number 2

Highlights from the review by Nigel Tattersfield in Print Quarterly, Volume XXXIX Number 1,  March 2022

 ‘Thomas Bewick Engraver and the Performance of Woodblocks by Graham Williams is the most substantial account of the master by a practising wood-engraver since Reynolds Stone’s handsome but inconsequential quarto of 1953′.

‘Such chatty intimacy is extraordinarily revealing, complemented by exemplary photography and reproduction’.

‘In the search for excellence,Williams scours the works of past master printers such as William Savage (1770-1843)’.

Print Quarterly Volume XXXIX, Number 1. March 2022

Highlights from the review by Hugh Dixon in Parenthesis 42, Journal of the Fine Press Book Association Spring 2022

‘Graham Williams, artist and engraver, has spent a whole career forming an understanding of blocks and printing, ink and paper, and almost as long studying and collecting the work, and recognising the huge achievement of Thomas Bewick. Here he distils his experience and shares his expertise and enthusiasm.’

‘Technical terms are explained and often also illustrated. So the unfortunate  reader who needs a loupe to distinguish a scorper from a spitsticker is soon rescued.’

‘This study is an important addition to recognising Bewick’s achievement ; it is also a most approachable account of the history of printing and the making of paper and ink with sound advice on modern practice.’

Parenthesis No 42 Spring 2022

Understanding Paper: Assessment and Permanence for Artists and Fine Printers

Highlights from the review by Peter Bower in The Quarterly 120, October 2021 the journal of the British Association of Paper Historians

‘This is an intriguing book, quite unlike any published before on paper and its usage’.

‘It is about how any user of paper can make their own assessments of three distinct attributes of paper based on questions of aesthetics, practicability in use and the permanence of paper’.

‘This book makes a very readable and accessible addition to any library. It’s beautifully designed and written: every sentence and idea are infused with the author’s years of experience in handling and using paper. The Glossary will prove very useful for anyone just starting out on their journey with paper’.

The Quarterly 120, October 2021

Highlights from the review by Simon Brett in the Society of Wood Engravers journal Multiples, November 2021.

‘We think of the paper as subordinate to the image. But this is exactly Graham Williams’ point. Your paper is the colour of your whites and your margins, the vehicle of your blacks, its texture affects the composition of your greys’.

‘For those just starting out, the book offers a breadth of reference beyond any recommendations a tutor might give and a degree of confidence when visiting a good paper supplier for the first time’.

‘The book puts the results of a whole series of investigations at our disposal, ending with an appendix on ink and a very educational glossary’.

Multiples, November 2021

Highlights from ‘notes’ in Print Quarterly Volume XXXIX Number 1,  March 2022

‘The author of this unusual and interesting book has been involved with print throughout his career, and has vast experience of printing both letterpress and wood-engravings.’

‘His interest is in how to examine and assess such paper, what features support different kinds of project, and which papers are likely to last over time without degrading.’

‘The book therefore contains much of interest to the print historian, and many enlightening remarks about hand- and machine- made papers.’

Print Quarterly Volume XXXIX, Number 1. March 2022

Highlights from the review by Sidney E. Berger in The Journal of the Printing Historical Society journal, Third Series, Number 3, 2022

‘This volume has rich information throughout, opening our eyes to the problems of selecting paper for fine printing and art.’

‘We sense we are in the hands of someone with extensive expertise’

‘Artists and printers need to peruse his fine book’

Journal of the Printing Historical Society, Third series, Number 3, 2022


A Collection of Printing from Woodblocks

Highlights from the review by Simon Brett in the Society of Wood Engravers journal Multiples, February 2022.

‘Deriving directly from Graham’s experiments which answer the questions which arose in printing Bewick, they do not just report the answers, as Understanding paper does: they are the answer – trial, evidence and verdict – in themselves’.

‘Not all engravers or even printers aim for the sort of perfection Graham Williams has aspired to. This is a production to be bought and studied by those that do; and a vivid example for the rest of us of what can be achieved’.

Multiples No 53 Feb 2022

Highlights from the review by Mark Askam in Fine Press Book Association journal Parenthesis 44, Spring 2023

‘What Graham Williams at the Florin Press has done is create a publication that realises his concept of allowing the viewer to see the differences that paper choice, fine ink and careful printing make when taking impressions from woodblocks. And with Williams being possibly the finest printer of wood engravings in the UK there is likely no better person to have undertaken such a task – and achieve such esteemed results.’

‘Williams wants to show the difference that the choice of paper and ink can make to a print. When looked at individually, any of the prints here look spectacular, regardless of the paper used, and you would be forgiven for thinking that all show the woodblocks looking their very best. It is only when you undertake careful side-by-side comparison of the subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – differences. It’s fascinating especially when in some cases the results are quite opposite to what you’d expect’.

‘Aside from the immaculate printing, this portfolio of prints – housed in a handsome solander box – is unsurprisingly a paper-lover’s dream’.

‘It was clearly a labour of love for Williams and I can only marvel at the results and applaud his efforts. There are few practitioners of letterpress today that I truly feel deserve the description of master printer, but in this reviewer’s humble opinion Graham Williams is one of them. I think this production clearly shows why’.

Review from Parenthesis 44, Spring 2023