Brian Hanscomb was born in Croxley Green, Hertfordshire in 1944. He served an apprenticeship in letterpress engraving and later trained as a gravure engraver. He engraves using Victorian tools handed down to him by his journeyman during his apprenticeship. His work owes a lot to his immediate locality of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall with its wonderful texture, colour and mysterious spiritual connotations, although his paintings are becoming increasingly abstract, inspired by Zen Buddhism and Quakerism. At the present time, Hanscomb’s work is becoming hard edged and more symmetrical in many aspects, although still concerned with absolutes and trying to make something out of nothing.
Hanscomb’s earlier work relied on torn and ragged edges, possibly symbolising the impermanence of life or the perfection of imperfection. These are reflected in his pastel works, such as ‘Emerging Trefoil’ and ‘Runes on Red’. He used Nepalese handmade paper on which there could be up to 8 layers of pastel, highlighting the raised texture as well as scratch-marking to reveal shapes, symbols and underlying colour. The handmade paper would often be used as a collage on top of other, smoother paper, giving contrasting, broader colour fields.
He prints limited edition engravings by hand on a Harry Rochat press, finding the discovery of the most sympathetic paper for a specific image highly rewarding. His use of a single colour ink, usually black or umber, demonstrates superbly the simple line of engravings; where his work is more detailed, the use of a single ink gives the tonal illusion of colour in the engraving.
In his latest mixed media work, he has been using gold leaf, pastel and pencil to create simple contemplative images and this is shown in his series inspired by the Burren country in County Clare, Ireland, seen on a springtime visit. Brian also works as a copperplate engraver which would seem to be an under used, even disappearing medium.
Brian was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (R.E.) in 1997.