'The trouble with the commercial demand for wood engraving is that they want something old-fashioned, Merchant-Ivory-ish. I suppose one of us will end up illustrating the Tory Party Manifesto. But it won't be me!’
- Peter Forster 1994
turntable gallery is delighted to present work by Peter Forster (1934 -2021), one of the country’s preeminent wood engravers of the late 20th century.
Following National Service, Peter pursued a career as a freelance illustrator before taking employment in the Department of the Environment’s graphic design studio. Assigned the task of designing guide books, he felt 'he'd sold his soul' and left in 1985 to continue his life’s work as a wood engraver and printer.
The print, Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense, (1988) was acquired by the V&A for their permanent collection, and was originally commissioned for Square Peg, a gay arts magazine. Peter had a gift for smuggling the seditious into the most austere of surroundings, with scintillating caricature and parody.
Much of his best work was produced for the Folio Society, where he illustrated seven complete volumes with contributions to three multi-artist publications.
With a great fondness for Shakespeare and Wilde, Peter produced the folio De Profundis. This powerful piece represented Wilde's agonised rage in letter form, written in Reading Gaol to his faithless lover; Lord Alfred Douglas. With the cooperation of Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland, Peter edited the text as well as illustrating it. These are dark and complex images; recalling Michelangelo's Last Judgement, depicting a sinner damned to hell for despair, reminding us of the psalm which underpins the work.
In a life of great achievement and merit, he entered the nations pockets in 2005 with his design for the £2 coin Gunpowder Plot commemorative coin. He was also placed third in the redesign of the national coinage. Always an innovator, Peter eschewed the traditional connotations of wood engraving and earned his place in shows with The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and also at the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.
This exhibition brings Peter’s work together for his first solo show: an assemblage of early pieces, prints, commissions and personal works. These are a broad collection of images, depicting everything form the male nude, landscapes and interiors to his beloved cat, Warbles.
Prospero’s Cave - A memoir in verse by the author Steve Cranfield will also be available at the show. The book celebrates the life and work of a remarkable artist and person, in his own words.