Richard Calver

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Richard Calver

1946 -

Richard Calver was born in Oxfordshire, England, and at the age of 19 he immigrated to Canada, settling in Quadra Island off the coast of British Columbia. In 1979, he began to study art with well-known printmaker Sybil Andrews, who was teaching from her home/studio in Campbell River, while continuing her masterful body of work in linocut. Quadra Island was only a ten-minute ferry ride from Campbell River, and Calver joined Andrews’s weekly teaching sessions. He recalled the wonderful atmosphere of her studio filled with smoke from the beach wood burning in her old stove, and her insistence on working in natural light. He related that “Sybil talked about her theories of art and ways to capture light, mood and feeling. ‘Grab it while it’s white hot…Put it down as violently as you can,’ ” she advised. She told her students to avoid horizontal and vertical lines, to look for angles and curves, and to draw with dark lines and leave them in, advice Calver followed.

Andrews’s instruction brought a turning point in Calver’s life, and he acquired linocut tools and began to produce a body of work in this medium. Early appreciation of his work came when an art collector visiting Andrews’s studio was impressed with his linocuts and acquired some of his prints, and Andrews bought an impression of his print Dandelions Rejoicing. Calver continued his relationship with Andrews, helping her during her final years, and he stated “it was a friendship I really treasured.”

Natural forms are the foundation of Calver’s imagery and he is clearly influenced by Andrews’s modernist style, formed during her time in England when she was part of the Grosvenor School of linocut artists, which was influenced by Futurism and its fascination with the electrifying pace of modern life. Calver’s work includes botanical forms, figures, nudes and musical subjects. His linocuts are finely detailed, richly coloured and full of dynamic movement.