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Philip Clairmont was attracted to relief print media such as the linocut and woodcut for the inherent raw qualities that these processes offered. Relief printing is one of the simplest means of printmaking, and Clairmont produced many of his prints on his own. Another feature of relief printing that captured Clairmont’s imagination was the large scale of the work he was able to produce. Many of his prints were completed without a press; instead, the artist would ink his woodblocks directly on the floor and overlay a sheet of paper which he pressed manually with a hand-held roller. Often the subjects for his prints were taken directly from his work as a painter.
Clairmont graduated in painting from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1970. He first began producing woodcuts in the late 1960s. They soon proved to be his preferred print medium, one that he continued to work with up until his death.