Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Black Ice: David Blackwood, Prints of Newfoundland

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Black Ice: David Blackwood, Prints of Newfoundland

Article excerpt

Katharine Lochnan (ed.), Black Ice: David Blackwood, Prints of Newfoundland (Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2014), 224 pp. Paper. $45. ISBN 978-0-8649-2854-2.

This is a re-edition of an attractive book first published in 2012 by the Art Gallery of Ontario to accompany a major exhibition of printmaker Blackwood's work. (I was fortunate enough to catch the exhibition at the National Art Gallery of Victoria in the summer of 2013.)

Blackwood's etchings constitute an epic iconography of his native Newfoundland, its eerily aw(e)ful landscape, its people, their struggle to survive and thrive. He has something in common with Count y Durham's Norman Cornish, in that both artists have recorded a ver y specific world and a challenging yet fulfilled way of life that no longer exists. For Cornish, this was the pits, streets, pubs and chapels of the Durham Coalfield. For Blackwood, outport Newfoundland, remote fishing villages, icebergs, snow, and ice. Both artists keep alive a sense of community in an often apocalyptic landscape; they give us works that are, to revive Sid Chaplin's memorable phrase, 'a shot against time'.

In addition to over seventy of Blackwood's prints, the volume features six essays. The first of these is by Katharine Lochnan, who curated the exhibition. The second is an interview with Blackwood himself by Gary Michael Dault. The following three essays - on Newfoundland's topography and geology, history, and folklore - seek to deepen our understanding of the source of Blackwood's inspiration. The final one, by writer Michael Crummey, is a (rather bland) personal response to the prints. Although it is interesting enough, I am not sure Derek Wilton and Martin Feely's rather technical survey of Newfoundland's geolog y really enhanced my appreciation of Blackwood's art. …

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