Linocut printmaking is a process in which a design is etched or carved out of a sheet of linoleum. The uncarved area then receives a layer of ink applied with a roller, and this inked surface is pressed onto paper (or another flat material such as fabric.) The reverse of the carved image is what transfers over, and the linoleum sheet can be use multiple times with multiple ink applications to make an edition of a print. The unique characteristics of the process, specifically the blunt quality of line that results from the carving, and the subtle variances that can occur from print to print, give linocuts their distinctive aesthetic.
Mary Filer used this printing process extensively from the 1940s through to the 1960s, producing work on material ranging from traditional artist’s card stock to very soft, translucent cotton rag paper. There are also many Greeting and Christmas Cards produced with linocut printing in our collection. Thematically, we see much of the same imagery Filer favoured in her work using other mediums, including Biblical tableaux and figures from Greek Mythology, as well as a fascination with the nude human form, all rendered with her telltale sense of romanticism. Filer clearly embraced the limitations of the linocut process as her prints often took on a form that was reminiscent of Cubism, with her subject matter rendered with an otherworldly flatness that took creative liberties with representation, perspective and depth.