Kenneth Rowntree

West Front, Durham


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Kenneth Rowntree 1915–1997
Screenprint on paper
Image: 483 × 488 mm
Presented by the artist 1985

Catalogue entry

Kenneth Rowntree born 1915

P02836 West Front, Durham 1976

Screenprint 483 x 488 (19 x 19 3/16) on paper 913 x 585 (35 15/16 x 23); printed by the artist and Audrey Dalby as the Design School, Department of Fine Art, University of Newcastle upon Tyne and published by the artist in an edition of 75
Inscribed 'Kenneth Rowntree 76' b.r. and '18/75'; image includes words and numbers (see below)
Presented by the artist 1985

All quotations from the artist come from a letter to the compiler dated 13 April 1988, unless otherwise stated.

The artist writes that he was 'enormously impressed by the visual aspect of the West Front at Durham Cathedral', being especially impressed by 'its splendour when the sun moved infinitesimal stages onto the West Front'. The print was made after specially prepared photographs of the similarly entitled construction made in 1974 ('West Front, Durham' 1974, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, repr. Kenneth Rowntree: Painting Drawings and Collages,, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne 1976, (1), [p.10]). They were made on a photo screen, which enabled the artist to print in black on colour. In a letter to the compiler dated 4 May 1988 he writes that the work was 'influenced by the Victoria Penny Black' stamp.

The earlier work, described as a 'wood construction', was made after 'working drawings of Durham in situ'. The artist wished to emulate in a print the weathered effect of the stone achieved by his use of wood in the original construction. He describes the effects he sought and the methods pursued in making the wood construction of 1974, from which P02836 was made:

This was the first of my 'tea chest' constructions, or rather, a print from it. I wanted to see if an alternative to the original fabric (stone) could be made to work and I found that the fairly battered tea chest gave an almost exact replica of the weathered cathedral for my purposes. The architectural features are done with a combination of dowelling, match sticks, and acrylic paint forced through a bakers cake decorator [this describes the making of the wood construction of 1974].
The construction and its related print mark a culmination of the artist's interest in the pictorial combination of paint and lettering. He writes:
I have always been intrigued by the combination of paint and lettering (largely the stencil lettering used for tea-chests), and here in this print I have added to the original lettering the name of the bishop who was particularly concerned with the West Front, Carileph, Epis, Bishop of Calais [appointed Bishop of Durham 1081, died 1096].
He states that P02936 is quite unlike other prints he has produced.

The artist has approved this entry.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.454-5

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