IN the late 1970s, when Ann Petherick first had the idea of owning a gallery, she started collecting the details of artists whose work caught her eye, although the gallery was nothing but a pipe dream.

She was then living in Suffolk and, even to this day, now she runs Kentmere House Gallery in York, there is still something of a bias towards East Anglian artists in her Scarcroft Hill premises.

"The first name I recorded was that of Norwich printmaker H.J.Jackson – John to his friends – who was producing linocuts with a strength of colour and image I had never seen before," says Ann. "More than 60 years later he's still doing so, better than ever, and this month the first book on his work, Afloat & Ashore is published in a fitting tribute to one of the country’s finest printmakers."

John produced his first hand-printed linocut in his last year at school in 1954 and the small single-colour print of a galleon in full sail was instrumental in helping him obtain a place at Norwich School of Art the following year. It was also directly responsible for him pursuing linocutting as a craft as part of the National Diploma in graphic design.

It was while at the School of Art that John became interested in coastal themes, stimulated by visits to Sheringham, Cromer and to the fishwharf at Great Yarmouth during the annual visits by the Scottish fishing fleet. By the end of the 1950s, however, his interest was taken up with the closure of the local Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, where his father, grandfather and other family members had all worked (John himself having been born in the signal box at Melton Constable, a railway centre in Norfolk). He also recorded the clearance of large areas of Victorian Norwich.

On leaving Art School, John no longer had the use of the print-room equipment and although he could buy tools, lino and ink, he realised he would have to dispense with the services of a printing press. After experimenting, he finally settled on a "tobacco tin" as the ideal burnishing tool: a method he still employs today. After working for more than 30 years in marketing and publicity for Boulton & Paul timber merchants in Norwich, and printmaking in the evenings and weekends, John was finally able to pursue linocutting full time in 1995.

Now a Senior Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers and a Member of the Society of Wood Engravers, H.J. Jackson has perfected his craft, hand-burnishing each of his full-colour linocuts with the use of his baccy tin.

He also was instrumental in setting up the Norwich Print Fair, held every September in one of Norwich’s redundant churches, and a fair of a quality rarely seen outside London.

Copies of Afloat & Ashore, published by Mascot Media, are available from Kentmere House Gallery at £25.