Austin was born in Leicester and studied at the local art school before taking up a place at the Royal College of Art, where he was later to become a tutor in engraving before taking over the Professorship of the Graphic Department. His prints of the 1920s and 30s were admired for their simplicity and clean lines and he led the revival of interest in engraving in Britain during the inter-war years. Austin found inspiration in the everyday – domestic scenes, landscapes, animals and still lifes – but his taut line and controlled composition impart a sense of hypertension to even the most serene setting. To make an engraving the artist uses a sharp tool (a burin) to cut a design into a metal plate, ink is then driven into the cut lines and printed. A major exhibition of Austin’s prints and drawings was shown at the Royal Academy, London in 2009.
Thresholds, British Council 2010