By the time Baynard produced the eight lithographs that make up My Egypt, he had already undertaken three major print projects with Kenneth Tyler at Tyler Graphics. The design and style of this series, with the centrally placed vases and stylized flowers, closely mirrors that of the woodcuts Baynard completed with Tyler in 1980 (see particularly A Dark Pot with Roses
1980, Tate P12996). That series was the first print project in which Baynard had collaborated with Tyler. When their initial discussions revealed a mutual admiration for Japanese woodblock prints, they had decided to work on a series inspired by the classical techniques of the Ukiyo-e style. Ukiyo-e, meaning ‘pictures of the floating world’, refers to a style of prints produced in Japan since the seventeenth century, generally featuring scenes from the theatre or landscapes.
Baynard had been painting water-colours of flower-filled vases over several years before making the series of woodblocks in 1980. Seeing their potential as woodcut images, he utilized the impression of the wood-grain as the main source of modeling in his prints. While the eight prints of My Egypt are similar in design to Baynard’s earlier woodblocks, they also exploit the unique qualities of the lithographic process, particularly the vibrant flat colour and variety of mark making achievable with the medium. Baynard had used lithography before, in his 1988 series The London Quartet (see, for example, Westbourne Grove 1988, Tate P11992), but combined with other techniques. In My Egypt, Baynard returns to a simpler decorative design. His characteristically flat drawing makes no use of perspective and a minimum of modeling. Instead, it is the contrasting pattern of the vases, the textured grounds and the intricate detail in the various coloured flower heads that are highlighted.
Sean Rainbird, ed., Print Matters: The Kenneth E. Tyler Gift, exhibition catalogue, Tate 2004.
Ed Baynard: Woodblock Prints and Watercoloured Lithographs 1980, Tyler Graphics, Bedford, New York 1980.
Tyler Graphics Catalogue Raisonné, 1974-1985, Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, USA, 1987, pp.66-77.