Evelyn Gibbs (1905-1991):
The Chapel, 1928
Framed (ref: 1953)
Pen and ink with white highlights
5 3/4 x 5 1/4 in. (14.8 x 13.2 cm)
Provenance: Private Collection
Evelyn Gibbs trained as a graphic artist and more particularly as a printmaker in etching and engraving. Born in Liverpool in 1905, the granddaughter of an Edinburgh engraver, she enrolled at Liverpool School of Art in 1922, winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in 1926 and from there a further scholarship to the British School at Rome in 1929, allowing her to continue and expand her practice.
Her tutor at the RCA was the excellent Malcom Osborne who encouraged his students to observe people and landscapes in everyday life. The Chapel was based on studies made in Westminster Cathedral.
It is interesting to compare this with another print made the same year, The Graveside – an engraving where four figures attend a burial site. In The Chapel, prayers are being offered and candles lit in memory of the departed. The women are so similar in these two works as to suggest the story of a bereavement, but the treatment is very different. Daylight and space are rendered cleanly behind the grieving figures in The Graveside, whereas the sombre enclosed space in The Chapel depends upon shadows and the candlelit area around the statue of the Virgin and Child. Here, Gibbs uses emphatic hatching and cross hatching to intensify the religious and emotional atmosphere, and it is all there in the original drawing, ready to transfer, in reverse, to the copper plate.
Commentary by Pauline Lucas, painter, printmaker, art critic and curator is author of Evelyn Gibbs: Artist and Traveller (2001) and Rediscovery & Restoration: Murals by Evelyn Gibbs at St. Martin’s Church, Bilborough (2015)