Julie Ebbing on Woodcut

About Woodcut

When I encounter wood as a material in my work, it has already lived a former life; when the tree in the forest becomes artistic medium, it is dead, yet still alive. Wood is in many ways malleable, but the material’s own expression is impossible to suppress — it expands, contracts, cracks, bends, stretches, twists, and turns. Working with wood as a material, demands an understanding of its properties. This action-based knowledge is contained within the language of the body, within the memory of the hands. It is not a knowledge that can be expressed clearly and concisely, fully verbalised or theorised.

The woodcut’s strange landscape of variegated surface consists of light and dark; sharp edges, lines, and surfaces. There are no approximations. If you make a mistake, you cannot erase it. It is in the nature of the woodcut to be uncompromising, and maybe this is why an expressive attitude so easily finds its outlet in woodcut. The wood imposes discipline. The lines are reminiscent of the resistance in the material.

My perceptions of the woodcut’s form and essence is not tied to a paper, edition, and signature. It is related to manual tasks — such as cutting and printing, the smell and the weight of the wood plates, the act of turning, cutting, chopping, sawing, building, scratching, pecking, scraping, planing, hammering. Working with woodcut alternates between working with the abstract and working with something concrete and physical — something tangible.

About the Works

The series, consisting of four linocuts on display at QSPA, are parts of the works I made during my week long residency at ULAE on Long Island in 2018, in connection with the QSPA Inspirational Award. The works in the exhibition largely represent the uncanny feeling of nationalism, right wing radicalism, and other forces which endeavour to undermine democracy, something equally relevant in 2022. The work makes an attempt to understand the world, and the zeitgeist— acting as a reminder of the fragility of democracy, the importance of taking an active part in it, and the need to constantly fight for it.