For over thirty years James
Bostock combined an artistic career with that of a full-time teacher
and administrator. Notwithstanding his academic commitments, as well
as the inevitable demands of bringing up a family of three boys, Bostock
produced a remarkable oeuvre of paintings and prints. The process
of cataloguing the seventy or so wood engravings, as well as the intaglio
prints, lithographs and illustrative work has been a revelation (not
least to the artist himself) of the breadth of subject matter and
variety of style these prints demonstrate.
It was at the Royal College of Art in the I 930s, under the influence
of such tutors as Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious and Paul and John
Nash that Bostock first became attracted to printmaking, and especially
wood engraving. After distinguished war service he began to produce
wood engravings which were soon recognised fortheir fine craftsmanship
and artistic individuality. By 1950 he had been elected a member of
both the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (later the
Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers) and the Society of Wood Engravers.
He exhibited regularly at the annual exhibitions of these societies
and his work was often included in the Royal Academy summer shows.
Museums and international institutions acquired his wood engravings
and Bostock quietly secured his position within the print world.
However, it was not until retirement in 1978, and a resultant flurry
of artistic activity, that James Bostock's work came before a wider
audience. Exhibitions of his paintings and prints occurred regularly
and the wood engravings were shown at the exhibitions of the newly
invigorated Society of Wood Engravers, which was now fostering a growing
interest in the medium. Bostock was able to promote not only his many
earlier works, but also the results of a productive decade. Sadly,
by 1988, deteriorating eyesight and the onset of arthritis caused
him to cease wood engraving - although, even then, he still painted
and drew with vigour.
The wood engravings continued to be shown at exhibitions and, in 1996,
Bostock was one of nineteen major artists to be included in an exhibition
arranged by Hilary Paynter (Chairman of the Society of Wood Engravers)
at the Bankside Gallery, London. This exhibition featured artists
who were members of both The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers
and the Society of Wood Engravers. Bostock had no impressions left
of his most popular prints and Hilary Paynter kindly offered to print
some of these blocks for him. She is full of admiration for the deep
cutting and quality of the artist's blocks and described them as 'a
joy to print'.
Only a year later Bostock's work was included in Hal Bishop's landmark
exhibition at Exeter Museum, Twentieth-Century British Wood Engraving:
A Celebration... and a Dissenting Voice. This exhibition received
an Arts Council award and is possibly the most important display of
British wood engraving to occur in recent years. James Bostock acknowledged
fulsomely the generosity and genuine interest that Hal Bishop has
shown in promoting his work Indeed a solo exhibition of Bostock's
watercolours and prints was curated by Hal Bishop at Exeter Museum
in the Following year In order to show the full range of his artistic
A substantial and distinguished group of collectors has now been established
to, James Bostock's wood engravings who admire not only the technical
skill of his prints but their humour, observation and stylistic variety.
This catalogue has been produced to record and reproduce these prints.
It could not have been completed without the artist's generous help
and kindly co-operation which has been much appreciated.
Chapman. November 2002.
The artist adds
owe an enormous debt to Gwladys Irene, my wife for sixty two years
for maintaining a comfortable home, bringing up three excellent
sons, and helping me constantly with all the practical problems
of my work, purchasing materials etc. and often making perceptive
comments on design questions. Without her constant help I could
only have produced only a small fraction of my work'