Graham Clarke, author, illustrator and humorist, is one of Britain's most popular and best selling printmakers. He has created some 400 images of English rural life and history, and of the Englishmans view of Europe.
Born in 1941, Clarkes upbringing in the austerity of wartime and post war Britain made him reliant on his own imaginative resources. He did not share his parent's enthusiasm for amateur theatricals and, responding instead to the comedy of everyday life, he bought his own unique brand of absurdity to his interpretation of past and present history through the eyes of the common man.
He was educated at Beckenham Art School, where he fell under the spell of Samuel Palmers romantic and visionary views of the shore and the countryside. At the Royal College of Art he specialised in illustration and printmaking, and pursued his interest in calligraphy. With encouragement from Edward Bawden, Clarke began refining an individual aesthetic, Printing traditional landscapes marked by a sense of locality and genre. Graduating in 1964, he benefited from the print boom of the decade, when commissions from Editions Alecto and London Transport Publicity Department came his way, a promising career was launched. The publication in 1969 of his first hand-printed "Livre d' artiste", Balyn and Balan won recognition from the most influential patron and connoisseur of the day, Kenneth Clark. Clarke also wrote enthusiastically in praise of vision of Wat Tyler;"The whole book is a splendid assertion that craftsmen still exist and cannot be killed by materialism. A few idealist are the only hope for decent values".
Limiting his explorations to the media of wood and lino-cut and, in recent years, exclusively of etching with aquatint, Clarke has attracted universal admiration for his revival for beautiful, hand-coloured prints in the tradition of Thomas Rowlandson. The famous "Arched top" etchings with which Graham Clarke established a widely successful reputation in Britain and overseas, came to public attention in 1973 when the first of these, Dance by the Light of the Moon, was exhibited in London at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Show, and sold out.
Clarke has been widely exhibited in Britain and abroad. Examples of his work are held by Royal and public collections including the Victorian and Albert Museum, The British Museum, The Tate Gallery, The Library of Congress in Washington D.C., In New York public Library and the Hiroshima Peace Museum. Many more are to be found on the walls of private homes, all over the world, collected systematically by devotes, as well as singularly by ordinary art lovers.