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By Nathalie Banaigs

Hugh Ribbans was born in Faversham towards the end of WWII, and was educated at the local district school and Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar. He studied relief printmaking at Canterbury College of Art between 1959 and 1963, specialising in linocutting. He obtained a NDD in Commercial Design.

In 1963, Hugh moved to London, where he worked as a graphic designer in advertising and design, eventually becoming creative director of a design group. He became a self-employed graphic designer and illustrator in 1974, working with advertising, corporate and packaging-design companies. He also illustrated books and publications for publishers including the BBC. In 1989, he bought a restored Columbian press, circa 1860, and returned to lino and woodblock printmaking.

Hugh moved back to Kent in 2000, eventually settling in Conyer, where he works as an illustrator, printmaker and designer.

He mainly produces linocuts and, occasionally woodcuts. Primarily working in black and white, he sometimes adds small areas of colour to provide contrast or detail. He also makes multiblock prints using five or six colours. Hugh’s fascination with pattern and line is a constant source of enjoyment to him. “I just see things that amuse me and get the urge to turn them into a linocut.” He says he always has an obsession with linework and a reverence to Edward Bawden. His subject matter is largely inspired by the or landscape, animals, birds, people and places around Faversham.

Exhibitions have included - the Barbican Gallery, the National Theatre, the National Print Exhibition, the Printmakers Council, the Society of Wood Engravers, the Society of Wildlife Artists, the Fry Gallery in Saffron Walden, the Mall Galleries in London, the Affordable Art Fair and the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.

His work can be seen locally at Top Hat & Tales in West Street, Faversham.


200I to 2019 Conyer Creek, Kent

Back to Kent to live in villages and eventually on a creek

Luck deals me a favour in the form of working at Queen’s Hall Studios

I continue graphic design but printmaking becomes the main passion

A quiet but very rich life

Walks on the shore

Sheep in the samphire

Faversham Hop Festival

House martins and water birds

Boats, barges, old brickfields

Apple and pear orchards

The Columbian press workshop with full-time printmaking

And four talented grandchildren to carry on into the

next Good Age.......

‘A Good Age’, a series of four narrative linocut prints illustrating the changes in his life over the years, alongside the waterways where he lived.

“Producing ‘Good Age’ was a very cathartic experience, making me dredge up memories of my life that I had almost forgotten. The image of me and another boy playing amid the bomb sites of Faversham I find quite moving as it reaches back to a time when Faversham was very different. A town smashed by the war and relying on the backbone of the working people to rebuild it through the many local industries - in my case, my family’s three generations in the shipyard.

“I don’t normally look back in life too much, preferring to enjoy the present and look ahead to things to come, but ‘A Good Age’ was an indulgence that I thoroughly enjoyed.

“People like stories. They like trivia and everyday happenings that imitate their own lives. People have been very interested and when I am in front of the prints ask me questions about the detail.

“The most common question is ‘Why is there an elephant in the street?’ A story about an elephant being led down my road when I was seven and my complete excitement and terror, having never seen a live elephant in my life!”


1943 to 1959 Faversham Creek

Doodlebugs over Kent (so I am told)

Bomb sites and disused air raid shelters to play in

Hop picking and fruit picking in the holidays

Festival of Britain desperate to go - nobody took me

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth - big excitement - lots of events

Steam train to travel on

Butcher’s boy - weekend job - fighting off the farmers' dogs

Faversham Carnival and the sea cadets band

Sailing Barges and cargo boats on the creek

Westgate Road and chasing round the cattle market

Street parties to celebrate big occasions

The day the elephant came down our street

Schoolboy romance

Grandad's allotment - first taste of peas straight from the pod

Bantam chickens in our backyard

Football on the rec - always football day and night till dark

Teddy boys in charge in the market place -

violence guaranteed

Parish church choirboy and altar server nervously

carrying the cross

Cowboy outfits and shiny metal six-guns with caps

The Faversham shipyard dynasty - grandad, father and cousin

Collecting spiders in jam jars

Blackberry picking and primrose bunches

Gasworks, and the breweries, mixed smells over the town

Steam lorry delivered beer to the pubs

I get to the local boys grammar school escaping

the shipyard dynasty

Horse-drawn carts pulling milk, beer,

rag & bone merchants

and the coalman's horse was white ..........


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