Julie Druker | Jul 30, 2015

One of the great things about the annual Bon Echo Art Exhibition & Sale is that there is always something for everyone. The show, which is now in its 20th year and took place at Bon Echo Provincial Park from July 24 to 26 last weekend, offered something for all the senses: great food, great live music and of course, great art. This year's show included several artists new to the show, which for its loyal following of art lovers and buyers is always a treat.

Larry Thompson of Greyweathers Press in Merrickville was one such artist who debuted his lino-cut and wood engraved prints under the towering pines at the three-day show, which celebrates the beauty of art and nature in an ideal setting.

Thompson, a self-taught artist, calls himself “an artist with a press” and is a former free-lance writer and editor with a degree in English literature. He has always been interested in printing and at 16 years of age, as a young student, he pulled his first proof from a letter press in a graphic arts class. Twenty-five years later, in 2005, he purchased a 2400-pound vintage printing press and installed it along with a considerable amount of lead type in his Merrickville studio.

He originally planned to print letter press books exclusively, but his need for illustrations quickly led him to explore relief print making in linoleum and wood. His display at the Bon Echo show included a number of framed and unframed prints in a range of sizes, with prices from $30-$90. His illustrations cover a wide range of subject matter and come from many places, including photographs, drawings, and doodles, with others inspired from the visions and minds of “dead poets and poets with a pulse”.

The works, because they are white and black, are highly graphic in nature and Thompson said the beauty he strives for comes from creating art within that limitation. His illustrations range from a series of graceful nudes to illustrations from the many books he has printed at Greyweathers Press, including excerpts from Coleridge's “Kubla Khan, A Vision in a Dream”, as well as prints from one of his own original stories that he printed and illustrated in a book titled “The Vampire and the Seventh Daughter”.

Thompson's work is precise, intricate and graceful and is well thought out. He says his art is “very labour intensive and requires an extreme amount of planning, attention and care”. His most recent book work is called “The Truth About Rabbits”, by a poet named Winona Linn, and it is a collaboration Thompson undertook with a printer named Hugh Barclay of The Hellbox Press in Kingston. Another recent book work also by Thompson is called “Tenebrismo: Ten Poems” by Merrickville poet Kera Willis, which is one of the more high concept book works Thompson has printed to date. An example of the dense detail that his art allows for can be seen in one illustration showing Thompson's cat Tennyson lying in an interior room stretched out on a computer keyboard.

For the Bon Echo show, Thompson felt the need to explore the theme of nature and wildlife and some of his most recent prints include landscapes – wind-swept pines in water-infused scenes typical of Bon Echo landscapes, as well as birds. Thompson is an exceptional artist breathing new life into the art of letter press printing and illustration and his display at the 20th installment of the Bon Echo art show is an example of what keeps art lovers and buyers visiting the show year after year. For more information and to see examples of Larry Thompson's work, visit greyweatherspress.com


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