2 Paintings in Collection
(1898-1992) England / Canada
Sybil Andrews is recognized as one of the most important artists to emerge from a group working under the influence of Claude Flight in London in the 1920s and 1930s. She is best known for her color linocuts which are representative of the dynamism many modernists felt for the rapidly changing world—a concept they hoped to convey through their art.
In 1925 Andrews accepted a secretarial position at the newly formed Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London. There she met and 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 prefect medium through which to articulate the modern vision. Flight introduced his students to modern art movements at a time when most British artists were suspicious about modernism’s radical goings-on and retreated to traditional styles and subject matter.
Combining the flattened planes of the cubists with the energy proposed by the futurists, Flight and his disciples produced compositions of simple forms and colorful pattern. Andrews’ work was the most succesful in merging modernism with her own skillful sense of color and line. By layering colors she achieves a remarkably rich surface in her prints. Repeated shapes enhance movement and the upward angle of many compositions is in keeping with the futurists’ agenda to translate to the picture plane the possibilities of the modern machine.
Andrews came to Flight already competent as an artist. A trained and accomplished draughtsman, Andrews had also studied sculpture and other printmaking techniques. Her goal was to examine an ordinary object or activity and reduce it to its essence. In Steeplechasing Andrews uses the arch of the riders and their horses as a compositional anchor. The 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 form.
In Tumulus Andrews’ work has matured and she is less reliant on decorative patterning and more confident about the layering of colors. In 1938 Andrews moved to the New Forest, outside of London, where she often chose as subject matter the gnarled, twisted trees that grew in this ancient forest.
Andrews worked in a boat-building yard during the war where she met her husband, Walter Morgan. After the war they immigrated to Canada. Andrews exhibited regularly in Europe between 1928 and 1937. She exhibited her work in Canada during the 1950s but infrequently after that. A retrospective and catalog of her printwork was produced in 1982 by Peter White of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.