John Farleigh

British, b.1900, d.1965


  • 1928
  • Wood engraving
  • Presented by Rex Nan Kivell, 1953
  • 400 x 328mm
  • 94/74

The beautiful forms and shapes of a humble weed are given centre stage in this wood engraving by John Farleigh. He had a natural empathy with the wood engraving medium, as can be seen in this work with its delicate lines and contrasting areas of black and white in the background. In his role as lecturer in the book production department at London’s Central School of Arts and Crafts in the 1920s he encouraged many artists to work with the medium. He illustrated numerous books and produced an important manual on wood engraving for students titled Engraving on Wood (1954).

Describing the process, Farleigh once stated:

The tool has a subtle voice. It will only confide in the understanding craftsman. […] It can become the only living thing about you. All feeling and life; all action and intensity can pass into the tool until the body clouds up and only the point of the tool is in focus. It is then that the tool will talk and all is well.

The Golden Age 18 December 2015 – 1 May 2016

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Hemlock shows Farleigh’s strong talent for and empathy with wood engraving. His delicate lines, and sharp contrasts of light and dark, create a powerful image of a humble weed. He liked to experiment with technique and worked in a variety of print mediums. Farleigh began his career as a commercial artist but studied wood engraving under Noel Rooke at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, between 1919 and 1922. He joined the Society of Wood Engravers in 1925 and was a major figure in the British revival of the wood engraving. His work included a number of commissions for London Transport posters. (Label date unknown)