Fine print: Paul Catherall’s architectural linocuts pack a nostalgic punch
Printmaker and one-time Wallpaper* cover artist Paul Catherall is no stranger to hard work. Each one of his architectural prints takes around six weeks to complete – and there are dozens of them in a bountiful new selling exhibition at London’s For Arts Sake gallery.
‘The process is pretty laborious,’ Catherall explains. ‘I draw up initial designs on tracing paper, refining the compositions for days at a time.’ When he's finally happy, Catherall paints a gouache colour sketch to see which palette might work. Then, he traces the design in pencil onto linoleum – the same kind found on kitchen floors – before transferring it with woodcut tools onto specialist Swiss-made lino, ready for printing, one colour at a time.
‘I like the mix of creativity (the design, the drawing) and also the labour-intensive aspect of making a print,’ Catherall explains. ‘It’s a pretty traditional, step-by-step process, all done by hand. It demands patience, which I’ve learned over time.’
‘Pink Elephant’, by Paul Catherall, 2005
Though Catherall continues to hone his printmaking skills today, his passion for architecture dates back to his childhood. Catherall grew up in Coventry, where time capsules of post-war architecture sprawl across the city in concrete clusters. ‘It was a slow realisation. On moving to London in the late 80s, places like the National Theatre, the Barbican and Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre felt familiar. They packed a bit of a nostalgic punch for me.’
Catherall indulges this nostalgia in his linocut A Vision, which was commissioned to illustrate a Simon Armitage poem of the same name, and incorporates elements of Coventry’s modernist Precinct. The rest of the works included in the exhibition focus on London landmarks (a city Catherall now calls home), including two new works depicting Perivale’s art deco Hoover building, set against a moody grey and blood-red sky, respectively.
Other spotlighted structures include Trellick Tower, Tate Modern and the Shard. But there’s more to come. ‘I have a long list of brutalist, modernist and art deco buildings I want to tackle,’ Catherall explains. ‘I’m working my way through them – slowly.’ Watch this carefully coloured, painstakingly printed space.