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Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MBH2, shelf DR33
A wood engraved portrait of an elderly woman.
Place of Origin
Height: 23.7 cm Sheet, Width: 23.8 cm sheet
Historical context note
Margit is a portrait of Goodman’s 95-year old grandma and explores ageing, death and memory. Goodman adopts an 11-layer reduction method, which took 10 months to print. This is a printmaking process which uses a single wood block for an entire print edition.
With this technique, the printmaker prints the lightest colour first onto the sheet. The printmaker then works on the block, reducing it further. The next colour is then applied to the block and printed on top of the existing impression on the sheet. The process of reducing the block and applying each darker layer continues through the various layers of colours. By the end of the process the block is completely transformed and can never be used again to re-produce this print, making each edition unique. The process of printing is extremely skilled, not least because each layer of colour must be aligned exactly with the underlying print impression.
Goodman draws parallels between the untouched block and newborn life, both with innate potential yet to be revealed explaining that the reduction process mimics life itself . He explains that just as the engraving develops and the figure emerges from the wood, so does one’s personality with the experiences of life. The way the print is built up with successive layers of ink, creates parallels with the way our impression of a person becomes more nuanced and layered over time. Conversely, he explains that the reduction process and the paring away of the wood through successive layers mimics his grandma's sad loss of memory.
Ben Goodman is both a wood engraver and an etcher. At 29, he became the youngest ever elected member of the Society of Wood Engravers. He exhibits regularly at the RWA, the Royal Academy of Art, Mall Galleries and annually with the Society of Wood Engravers.
Print, 'Margit', wood engraving by Ben Goodman, 2017
Paper; Printing ink
Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection