The bold coloured linocuts of printmaker and book illustrator Haydn Reynolds Mackey represent an innovative departure from recognised methods of colour printmaking. Although they appear, at first sight, to be multiple colour printed linocuts on heavy wove oatmeal paper, this is not the case. They are, in fact, single impression linocuts printed in black ink on fine tracing-style tissue paper which Haydn Mackey then hand-painted and presented in a manner unique to his work.
Having printed his linocut in black ink, H.R.Mackey would hand colour each proof with thick opaque oil paint on the reverse of the fine transparent printed sheet. He would then apply this hand coloured proof on to a heavy oatmeal backing paper, paint surface downward. Once the printed sheet was perfectly adhered to the backing, he would trim the edges so that both sheets appear as one. The resulting effect is for the strong oil colours to show through the transparent paper of the proof print, giving the appearance of a perfectly registered multiple colour printing of the finest and most even nature.
Haydn Reynolds Mackey’s prints are consistently rare, having never been published in formal editions. It is likely that the time and difficulty involved in producing each final colour print precluded the production of these prints on a commercial scale. Mackey’s works of this nature remain some of the most striking linocuts produced in England at this time, outside the Grosvenor School.