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2 Paintings in Collection

Sybil Andrews


(1898-1992) England / Canada

Selected Exhibitions

Sybil Andrews: Art and Life, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Canada, 2020

Machine-age Modernists: Claude Flight, Cyril Power and Sybil Andrews, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, England, 2019

A Study in Contrast: Sybil Andrews and Gwenda Morgan, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada, 2015

Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition: The Jeri L. Waxenberg Collection, Boise Art Museum, Idaho, 2002

Tumulus and Steeplechasing

Uncovered and Recovered: Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition, Sun Valley Museum of Art, Ketchum, ID, 1999

Tumulus and Steeplechasing

Claude Flight and His Followers: The Colour Linocut Movement between the Wars, National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri, 1992

Selected Public Collections

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; National Gallery of Canada; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; The British Museum, London, England: Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, England; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, CA; Wolfsonian Museum, Miami Beach, FL


On the Curve: The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews by Janet Nicol, Caitlin Press, 2022

Sybil Andrews Linocuts: A Complete Catalogue by Hana Leaper, Lund Humphries, London, 2022

Sybil Andrews: Color Linocuts by Peter White, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, 1982

Other Resources

The Remarkable Art of Sybil Andrews video with

Sybil Andrews and the Art of the Linocut, produced by Glenbow Museum, 1992:

Born 1898 Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Died 1992 Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada

Sybil Andrews is widely recognized as one of the most important artists to emerge from a group working under Claude Flight in London in the 1920s and 1930s. She is best known for her colorful linocuts which represent the dynamism many modernists felt for the rapidly changing world—a concept they sought to convey through their art. After decades of neglect, Andrews is experiencing a resurgence of interest today and has recently been the subject of a number of exhibitions and publications.

Andrews recalled that she and her siblings each received a paint box at an early age. It was her treasured possession as she began exploring the impacts of color and line as a child. Despite her interest, her family was unable to send her to art school so during WWI Andrews worked at Standard Motor Co. manufacturing airplane parts and at the Bristol Welding Company as a torch welder. During her free time she studied life drawing by correspondence.

In 1922 she attended Heatherley School of Fine Art in London and studied with Henry Massey who taught his students to draw by defining the essentials quickly. In 1925 Andrews accepted a secretarial position at the newly formed Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London. There she began working with Claude Flight, whose commitment to the linocut was passionate. Flight believed that linoleum block, a previously unused material for artmaking, was the perfect medium through which to articulate the modern vision and democratic values. It was an inexpensive material that was less labor intensive than woodcutting, required simple tools, and could be priced for the average wage-earner, a combination of factors that appealed to Andrews.

Flight introduced his students to modern art at a time when most British artists were suspicious about modernism’s radical goings-on and retreated to traditional styles and subject matter. He was an open, engaging and supportive teacher who welcomed women and men, English artists as well as those from Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland, instructing them to approach their work unshackled from the tenets of the academy. Teaching his students how to create structure with layers of color, Flight and his disciples produced compositions of simple forms and colorful patterns.

Andrews absorbed Flight’s teachings and her dynamic prints combine the flattened planes of the Cubists with the energy proposed by the Futurists. Andrews’ work successfully merges modernism’s reduced approach with her own skillful sense of color and line. By layering colors she achieves a remarkably rich surface and, in repeating shapes, she creates patterns that suggest movement. The surging angle of many of her compositions is in keeping with the Futurists’ agenda to translate to the picture plane the energy of the modern machine and urban life.

Andrews was a trained and accomplished draughtsman when she began making linocuts in 1926. By 1928 she was working seriously and exhibiting in numerous shows including the annual Exhibition of British Linocuts at the Redfern Gallery in London starting in 1929 and continuing through 1937. Andrews and her fellow Heatherley School artist, Cyril Power, received a commission from the London Passengers Transport Board and between 1929 and 1937, under the pseudonym “Andrew Power,” they produced numerous posters for sporting events that passengers could access via the Tube.

Andrews’ approach which was to examine an ordinary object or activity and reduce it to its essence was early Modernism exemplified. Inspired by life in her native Bury St. Edmonds, she created linocuts that reflected the agricultural life of the region. In Steeplechasing, one of the two works in the Wolfson Collection that she did after returning to Suffolk, Andrews uses the arch of the riders and their horses as a compositional anchor. The pattern of lines and curves in the image echo this movement. Her color is assertive and bright; the outline of the horses accentuates their abstract form. The hatch marks which she has overprinted in the bottom left lend texture and form.

Unfortunately, Sybil Andrews struggled to earn a living from her art. Her pieces had difficulty selling because people were unaccustomed to the medium and because she often chose subjects that were less popular. She was interested in the working class and sports. She found patterns in the life around her--men on motorcycles, the construction of a railyard, rowing crews and farmers plowing fields. In an interview in 1992 she spoke about how she was attracted to the energy of people working together; teams doing the same movement collectively and in unison.

In the second piece in the Wolfson Collection, Tumulus, Andrews’ work has matured and she is less reliant on decorative patterning and more confident about the layering of colors. Repeating simple geometric forms and creating motion through arching tree trunks, she creates both depth and energy. In 1938 Andrews moved to New Forest, outside of London, where she often chose as subject matter the gnarled, twisted trees that grew in this ancient forest. She sought out the peace of the countryside and was enchanted by the wilderness that surrounded her. Andrews made fewer prints during this period, choosing instead paint or watercolors.

In 1942 Andrews returned to London and took a job in a boat-building yard to once again assist with the war effort. It was there that she met her husband, Walter Morgan. The couple was married in 1943. After the war, they immigrated to Vancouver, Canada eventually settling in Campbell River, an isolated logging community where Andrews was again surrounded by the forest and wilderness. Her work there reflected the local people and commerce; loggers and tribal communities were frequent subjects.

By 1945 the artworld’s attention was elsewhere and the couple earned a living building and repairing boats and Andrews taught drawing from their home. She exhibited her work in Canada during the 1950s but infrequently after that. In 1951 she was elected to the Society of Canadian Painters. Today the couple’s cottage on Vancouver Island is the home of the Campbell River Arts Council.

For nearly forty years Andrews’ artwork was largely forgotten but during the last decade there has been a resurgence of interest in the Grosvenor School artists, particularly Sybil Andrews. In recent years her works have been the subject of a number of exhibitions in Canada and England and have sold extremely well at auction with record prices being achieved.

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