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Chris Daunt’s People – The Art and Craft of Wood Engraving

Master wood engraver Chris Daunt working
Master wood engraver Chris Daunt | © Chris Daunt

Chris Daunt's exhibition, Chris Daunt’s People – The Art and Craft of Wood Engraving will be shown at Cherryburn from 25th April 2024.

Chris Daunt’s People – The Art and Craft of Wood Engraving is a new exhibition by master engraver Chris Daunt, appearing at Cherryburn from 25th April 2024.

The exhibition will display a cross-section of Chris' work, produced across decades of wood engraving and taking in commercial work as well as the purely artistic.

All of Chris' engravings are hand printed on a beautiful 19th century Albion Press in limited editions and the coloured engravings are multi block, rather than reduction method. Chris uses Boxwood, Lemonwood, Maple and Pearwood to create his engraving blocks. Wood engraving blocks are always constructed on the end grain so that the tools cut across the annual rings, which have no directional differences, allowing cuts to be made evenly in any direction.

Chris says: "although engraving on end grain wood predates the work of Thomas Bewick (1753–1828), he is generally regarded as the father of wood engraving because of the unsurpassed mastery of his engravings. Bewick used end grain English Boxwood (sometimes Pearwood), still used by many modern wood engravers."

Kay Owen, Visitor Operations & Experience Manager for the Hadrian's Wall Country portfolio which includes Cherryburn said: "we've been lucky to get to know Chris and his work via his wood engraving workshops at Cherryburn which are always so popular. Chris' work displays a creativity, skill and attention to detail that Thomas Bewick would recognise and it's exciting to be exhibiting Chris work alongside that of Bewick this year."

Becoming an Artist

Chris Daunt's journey to becoming an artist took a less than traditional route. He began, as many artists do, studying fine art at university but it was through reading that he discovered wood engraving - something which did not appear on the fine art syllabus.

Chris bought tools and blocks and began engraving aged just 18. He discovered a kindred spirit in the university graphics department in the form of semi-retired lecturer Leo Wyatt who Chris says was "probably the finest engraver of lettering in the twentieth century."

Guided and encouraged by Wyatt, Chris continued his craft, deciding after a year that he was disillusioned with the world of fine art and moving to the Scottish borders to become a Cistercian monk.

Sequestering himself from the world in an enclosed order, Chris remained a monk for four years before pursuing an English Literature degree and taking a teaching job in Poland.

Chris says "on returning from Poland I had to get a proper job and I stayed in that role for three years. That made me decide that I had to be an artist rather than have a proper job."

His previous engraving work was discovered by a creative director in an advertising agency and this led to a commission for wood engravings for an ad campaign, launching his career as a commercial illustrator using wood engraving as his medium.

Now Chris' working life is comprised of block making, book illustrations and the creation of his own art as well as giving workshops so others can learn to engrave.

Added to this is Chris' recently published book, The Art and Craft of Wood Engraving a how-to-do-it book based on the author's many years of experience as a wood engraver and teacher. Buy The Art and Craft of Wood Engraving

Chris' next Cherryburn workshop is a four-day workshop from 11 to 14 May 2024. Wood Engraving four-day workshop at Cherryburn

Two adults and two children bend over a table looking at leaflets at Cherryburn with museum cabinets in the background.

Things to do at Cherryburn 

There’s lots to discover at the birthplace of Thomas Bewick, from watching a printing demonstration and seeing his intricate artworks to spending time in the tranquil garden.