burton art gallery and museum
gallery highlights




Kingsley Road, Bideford, Devon EX39 2QQ

Telephone: 01237 471455
Email: info@theburton.org

Admission is Free
Open Daily 10am - 4pm
Sundays 11am - 4pm

Hilary Paynter

Hilary Paynter


Hilary Paynter studied sculpture and wood engraving at Portsmouth College of Art. She combined a career as a teacher in comprehensive schools and special education and later as a Chartered Educational Pychologist, with intense and prolific wood engraving. She is now a full-time artist.

Wood engraving is a relief printing process characterised by fine line and texture, cutting directly into the polished surface of the end-grain wood: box, lemon, pear and holly. The print is made by rolling the engraved surface of the block with stiff ink, placing paper (acid free Zerkall or occasionally hand-made Japanese) on the inked surface and printing by hand press or burnishing. All prints in an edition should be identical. Each print is signed and individually numbered by the artist.

Instrumental in the revival of the Society of Wood Engravers in the early 1980s, Hilary has been its lynchpin ever since, initially as Honorary Secretary, currently as Chairman, and she organises the annual, touring exhibition. Recent projects for the society include the design and realisation of the highly successful Millenium Ark, on which 26 wood engravers collaborated. She also organises special exhibitions, often with linked publications such as Engraved Gardens and 500 Cats.

Her subject matter ranges prodigiously through dramatic landscapes and rugged coastal scenery with strange geological forms to domestic observations or acute socio-political comment that may be subtle or savage. In between are the gentler pastoral scenes, castles and other reflections.

Hilary Paynter’s work is represented in the collections of the Ashmolean (Oxford), Fitzwilliam (Cambridge) and Victoria & Albert Museums; in city galleries including Birmingham, Hereford and Portsmouth; in the universities of London and Northumbria.
She has featured on Woman’s Hour and in the BBC2 programmes Off The Wall and We are Amused (about cartoons of the Monarchy) and recently made a film for Japanese television showing the wood engraving process from initial drawings through to final publication.

Book illustration has included drawings and cartoons for a book on genetic engineering (Playing God by John Newell BBC/Broadside Books), The Story of Poetry by Tom Mason with 10 full-page engravings plus 100 small illustrations (pub: Broadcast Books); The Engraver’s Cut, Legal London Engraved and Fragments from the Satyricon by Petronius (pub: Primrose Academy) and Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti (Artist’s Choice Editions).

A major project was recently unveiled in Newcastle to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Thomas Bewick, who invented wood engraving. A suite of 14 wood engravings by Hilary Paynter, From the Rivers to the Sea, was enlarged to two meters high and stretching over 22 metres, printed onto vitreous enamel panels and installed on the Metro platforms at Central Station.

In June 2006, she was elected President of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers.

lottery funded