Black-and-white linoleum cut (also called linocut) has a strong history and a robust contemporary practice in South Africa. The technique—cutting into a sheet of linoleum to create grooves, then inking and printing it—has been attractive for its low cost and directness as well as the bold, high-contrast images it enables.
Many of South Africa’s central figures in printmaking graduated from the school at the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) Art and Craft Centre in the rural locale known as Rorke’s Drift, the site of a battle in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. The school, which opened in 1968, offered a range of printmaking and other fine art instruction for black artists, who were otherwise restricted from university; many students chose black-and-white linocut, and they collectively developed the medium into a powerful means of artistic and political expression.
Since then, a number of art centers and workshops have fostered printmaking in both rural and urban areas, among them Artist Proof Studio (in Johannesburg) and Dakawa Art and Craft Community Centre and Egazini Outreach Project (both in the Eastern Cape). At these workshops and others, artists working exclusively in linocut and artists working in mediums other than printmaking have sought the visual effects the technique.