Travels with a land seer

Great cities, architecture and natural wonders feel all that more alluring as we indulge in escapism from our various states of pandemic lockdown. Hence the Travel guide to COVID-19 pocket exhibition, a PowerPoint presentation of works from the Baillieu Library Print Collection, has been inspired by some fabulous travel destinations and put together for isolation enjoyment. Roaming through pictures allows freedom of travel across both time and continents.

The pocket exhibition travel destination led to a talented etcher, who despite the quality and vision of his prints, is not well known. Frederick Landseer Maur Griggs (1876-1938) went forth into his printmaking career by working on the illustrations for 13 volumes of Highways and Byways, a series of English regional guides. Capturing the beauty of the English countryside and encountering romantic castles and abbeys saw his art blend the real and the imaginary.

St Boltoph’s Bridge was the last of the 57 etchings he made, and it depicts a Medieval styled scene, with two figures before a pilgrim’s chapel, all drawn from his imagination. The bridge is a fantasy, but Griggs has named it after a real saint associated with East Anglia. Combining architecture, landscape and spirituality became a hallmark of his practice.

Griggs is also an artist associated with the etching revival, a phase reinvigorating the etching medium as an original art form. He printed his work on the Dover’s House Press which he set up in his own Cotswold home. He is considered an artist of the Romantic and Gothic aesthetic. A conservationist for buildings and towns, he is also a campaigner for all the dreamers.

Griggs Bridge

Image: Frederick Landseer Maur Griggs, St Boltoph's Bridge, 1917. Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne