Cross Cut is a multi media project featuring traditional songs from Ontario (1830-1920) that includes a book with linocut illustrations, an exhibition, musical performances and a music album.
CBC’s Edith Fowke collected folk songs in rural Ontario during the 1960s—many in Peterborough County. Traditional music came to Ontario with European settlers. Lyrics and tunes were adapted to local experiences and the personal preferences of the players, and these offer a reflection of society at different moments in history. The underlying themes are of a timeless nature, as they deal with human existence: love, deception, politics, war, immigration, work, leisure, murder, death, etc. The series of linocuts invites to reflect on the lives of Canadians from the past and today; superficially things have changed, but the human conditions for people now are not that different from 150 years ago. The linocuts use both the traditional method of carving the material, and contemporary and experimental ways of mark making, including laser engraving, etching and collage.
The Cross Cut song book covers a selection of song lyrics, their history and basic chord progressions. Historian and musician Dr. Allan Kirby and Rob Niezen are co-producers of the book. A first exhibition at Lang Pioneer Village Museum is planned for May 24 to June 4, 2022. Traditional music group Backwoodsmen created contemporary arrangements for the songs, and releases a double album of twenty-plus songs. A first selection of the songs is available on Bandcamp under the title First Cut.
The Cross Cut linocuts are handprinted on an etching press in editions of 30. Each numbered print measures 7 x 5″ (17.5 x 12.5 cm) on a 10 x 7″ (25 x 17.5cm) sheet. The prints are packaged in an acid free sleeve with a cardboard backing, and come with a copy of the song lyrics and chord progression. CAN $40 + shipping.
The prints listed below can be ordered by sending Rob an email at