Simon Brett has made
wood engravings since 1961. They have been made as prints, as bookplates
and, mostly, as book illustrations: it is largely as a book illustrator
that he makes a living. He also writes on the history, practice and current
condition of the art.
This website offers a taste of his work under these four headings. Continue
down this page for a brief reflection on print as seen here and for basic
information about the artist.
The separation into 'prints' and 'illustrations' can seem a little arbitrary.
All the images shown here are prints: they were made by being printed.
Most, however, were made to be seen primarily in reproduction, as book
illustrations. Some were made to be seen as prints to hang on the wall:
these are 'prints' in a different, more particular sense of the word.
In some cases, what was made as an illustration also appeals as an independent
image: all engravings can be issued as signed prints and would be if there
was a call for it. There is more explanation about this further on.
Simon Brett was born in Windsor in 1943, brought up in London and educated
at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire. He learned wood engraving from Clifford
Webb at Saint Martin's School of Art, London, where he studied principally
as a painter, 1960-64. He travelled as a painter to New Mexico, Denmark
and Provence, 1965-70, and then taught at Marlborough College Art School,
in Wiltshire, 1971-1989. Between 1981 and 1988, he published several books
under his own Paulinus Press imprint, winning the Francis Williams Illustration
Award (National Book League / Victoria and Albert Museum) for the first,
The Animals of Saint Gregory, in 1981. Since 1989 he has worked as a self-employed
artist. His commissioned illustration includes The Reader's Digest Bible
and, for The Folio Society, such classic titles as Clarissa, Jane Eyre,
The Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Folio Golden Treasury, which he
also picture edited, Middlemarch, The Poetry of John Keats and The Meditations
of Marcus Aurelius. An Associate of The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers,
1986, and Fellow, 1991, he was Chairman of The Society of Wood Engravers
1986-1992 and has remained closely associated with the Society's work.
Simon Brett has curated two major exhibitions for the Society and one
for the British Council. He writes regularly and probably too much for
the Society's newsletter, Multiples, and for other related periodicals.
He is an editorial consultant for the journal Printmaking Today and for
the publisher of books about wood engraving, Primrose Hill Press. A second,
revised edition of his Wood Engraving - How To Do It was published by
them in 2000 and An Engraver's Globe, a survey of wood engraving world-wide,
appeared in 2002.