Barry Flanagan

Think of Courage (without Fear not)

1972, reprinted c.1983

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Barry Flanagan 1941–2009
Etching on paper
Image: 152 × 201 mm
Presented by Sue Flanagan, the artist's former wife 1985

Catalogue entry

This catalogue entry discusses a group of works; details of the individual work are given at the end of the introductory text.

Barry Flanagan born 1941

P02723 - P02834 Group of 112 etchings and linocuts, various sizes. Presented by the artist's former wife Sue Flanagan 1985

This group of prints represents nearly the entire printed output of the artist up to 1983 and is one of the largest public collections of his prints. The titles were all given by the artist. Those prints bearing the stamped monogram ‘f' were stamped by the Tate Gallery at the artist's request.

The artist has said that print-making represents for him a ‘traditional pursuit'. Flanagan began to make prints in 1970. His prints (and drawings) often have a very personal content and can be seen as akin to private memoranda. Sometimes used as gifts for friends, they record aspects of the artist's personal life. He first published prints with the Rowan Gallery in 1972, a year in which his print-making was prolific. Thereafter he published series of prints with Bernard Jacobson Gallery in 1976 and Waddington Graphics in 1983.

In 1981 Flanagan exhibited a comprehensive range of his prints and drawings at the Mostyn Art Gallery, Llandudno. The exhibition travelled to Mold, Cardiff, Swansea, Southampton and London and then, in 1983, toured in Italy, France and Holland. In the early 1980s Colin Dyer, working with the artist in his studio, completed archival sets of prints using cream Vélin d'Arches paper. Those etchings in the Sue Flanagan donation printed on white paper are generally those which the artist printed at Petersburg Press, at Burleighfield Press (with David Harding) or in his own studio in the early and mid 1970s.

Many of the prints have a small dark rectangle at one of their edges which results from the etching process. David Brown explains:

In the preparation of etching plates, they are ‘smoked' in a flame to produce a fine, even covering of wax, the plate being held by a pair of tongs and therefore unaffected by the ‘smoking' process would be waxed later, but with these prints, Flanagan chose to eliminate this final stage leaving a small area etched by acid and absorbing the ink (Barry Flanagan: Etchings and Linocuts, exh. cat., Waddington Graphics 1984, [p.3]).

So characteristic of Flanagan's etchings is this black mark, it can almost be seen as a second ‘signature'.

These entries are based on conversations with Sue Flanagan and Colin Dyer and have been approved by the artist.

P02725 Think of Courage (without Fear not) 1972, reprinted c.1983

Etching 152 x 201 (6 x 7 7/8) on cream Vélin d'Arches paper 382 x 565 (15 1/8 x 22 1/4); plate-mark 152 x 201 (6 x 7 7/8); printed by Colin Dyer c.1983; not editioned
Printed inscription ‘THINK OF | COURAGE | WITHOUT | FEAR NOT | BEER' centre left of image, ‘sorrows drowning' centre of image, and ‘having made a decision | the is allways some | task to | perform' b.r. of image; stamped with artist's monogram ‘f' below image b.r.
Lit: Catherine Lampert, Sixties and Seventies: Prints and Drawings by Barry Flanagan, exh. cat., Mostyn Art Gallery, Llandudno 1981, p.3

The serious tone of the inscription beginning ‘think of courage' is belied by its ironic echoes of the advertising slogan for a brand of beer, ‘Take Courage'. In this light, ‘sorrows drowning' can be seen as a poetic version of the familiar phrase, ‘to drown one's sorrows'.

Catherine Lampert has seen in the inscription, ‘having made a decision | the (sic) is allways (sic) some | task to | perform' a reference to the artist's sense of the importance of process in his art. She writes:

Flanagan is instinctively a sculptor. He believes in manual actions: that is, the experience upon which the work depends is the experience of ‘making' the work. It is only after an idea percolates and assumes a worldly role by virtue of the energy released through the contact of the materials, that it can aspire to be a genuine work ... In the word ‘task' we become aware of the artist's vigilant stance, his horror of allowing the mind to relax during the rather sensual period of guiding a pen on the paper, of chipping at a stone block.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.333-4

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