Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Botanicals for the Green Revolution: The Prints of Angie Lewin

Angie Lewin is the artist for the green revolution.  Not since William Morris has an artist combined patterned abstraction with horticultural specificity.  Her hand-made prints show seed pods and grasses, clouds and moonlight, islands and cliffs.  Her linocuts and wood engravings are both specific and universal, a quality that has made her one of the most demanded printmakers in England.

Angie was not always strongly connected to the natural world.  For years Angie lived in north London as an illustrator.  When she and her husband decided to buy a holiday cottage on the coast road in Norfolk, everything changed.  The clifftops and saltmarshes of the North Norfolk coast inspired Angie to return to print making, a discipline she had studied in graduate school.  Angie had previously studied garden design in her thirties, but found it took the joy out of gardening.  But it did open her eyes to plants.  "I became fascinated by the structure of plants," says Angie, "especially those that were about to flower or had flowered already."

Her style is recognizable: the colors are a retro palette, and the arrangement is a mix of arts and crafts and mid-century modern.  But her eye for horticultural detail elevates her designs.  In her prints, you can feel the connection between plant and place, and its this element that makes her work strikingly original.  You get a sense from her work that if you see the plant well enough, you will know the larger landscape.  Though nature is abstracted, the ecology is still present. "I like looking at the landscape through the plants," Angie says.   

Goatsbeard, dandelions, cow parsley, fennel, and sea lavender--Angie is able to turn gardener's weeds into expansive landscapes.   The process is laborious and time-consuming.  For each print, Angie begins by sketching.  The sketches become detailed sketches, which then get cut into the wood.  Each color necessitates a separate block, each of which takes up to a week to cut.  If she makes a mistake while cutting, she has to start from the beginning.  The final piece is printed on delicate Japanese paper, one block at a time.  Since everything is done by hand, Angie only runs small prints.  "I have so many sketches that I'm always keen to move on to the next print."

The end results have attracted attention.   Angie's prints have donned the cover of garden writer Noel Kingsbury new book, Natural Garden Style.  Kingsubry has long trumpeted the value of the structure of plant, not just its bloom or color, so her art was a good philosphic fit.  In addition, Angie has completed covers for Leslie Geddes-Brown's Garden Wisdom and Jeremy Page's Salt.  Author Leslie Geddes Brown explains, "The whole book was, in its turn, inspired by the art of Angie Levin, who brings her own vision of the natural world to her work." 

To learn more about Angie Lewin's work, you can visit her website.


  1. those prints are quite simply...stunning...

  2. I just love her prints, they are spectacular!

  3. I am looking for tattoo ideas. I was wondering if I could use one of these. Do I need to get permission?


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