Alison McKenzie

The Four Friends (for Aesop's Fables) (1936)

About this artwork

This woodcut is an illustration for the story ‘The Four Friends,’ which is the tale of four animals – a mouse, a deer, a tortoise and a crow. Despite being very different, they united to help each other defeat their biggest common enemy (man) who wished to hunt them. The story is thought to have originated in South Asia but was also told as part of Aesop’s Fables. The illustration shows McKenzie’s skill as a printmaker. She was praised for her sculptural handling of her subjects, her economy and precision.

Alison McKenzie

Alison McKenzie

Alison McKenzie was born in Bombay and grew up in Scotland. She studied Design and Textiles at Glasgow School of Art before her family moved to London in 1930, where Alison and her sister Winifred studied at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art. Both sisters exhibited their work regularly, and Alison was commissioned to design several posters for the London North Eastern Railway to advertise the Yorkshire Dales and Norfolk Broads. She later taught at Dundee College of Art from 1946-58. In addition to wood engravings, Alison produced still lifes in watercolour as well as some works in oils and gouache. Influenced by late Cubist painting, her work is characterised by a muted palette of greens, greys and ochres.