© The Estate of W T Rawlinson.
William Rawlinson had a long and successful career as a teacher of art and exhibiting artist. He became an acknowledged master of the exacting technique of wood engraving, remaining committed to figurative art in the English tradition. Wood engraving has a long history and though it was to some extent supplanted by etching and lithography in the nineteenth century, it became popular among many notable artists in the early twentieth century, such as Eric Gill, Gwen Reverat, David Jones, Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious and Blair Hughes-Stanton.
During the 1960s and 70s botanical subjects began to appear frequently among the usual landscape and architectural wood engravings produced by Rawlinson and these show his astute observation as well as a strong sense of design. There are several other works showing desert plants, some of which are based on drawings he made during his service with the RAF in the North African desert some thirty years before.
The cactus in flower shown here was grown in the greenhouse of a friend and neighbour of Rawlinson and engraved in 1970. The intended edition for Cactus was fifty of which it is known that nineteen prints were made. It is illustrated in two books by Albert Garrett: ‘The History of the British School of Wood Engraving’ published in 1978 by Midas Books, Tunbridge Wells and ‘A History of Wood Engraving’ published in 1986 by Bloomsbury Books, London.
This work was was one of three items presented to the University by David and Shirley Hines on the occasion of the University's 25th anniversary.