Whitby

Over the years, I have taken children to Whitby many times and have always considered it to be a very special place, with a charm all its own. We have often tramped up and down (and sometimes up and down again!) the 199 Steps to the Abbey and St Mary’s Church. The image I will forever hold in my mind, is of the terracotta-coloured roof tiles on the higgledy-piggledy rooftops pictured here. I intentionally left out the harbour and the rest of the town that can be seen in the distance from this view point on the aforementioned steps. It is worth mentioning that at the top of the steps, in the graveyard of St Mary’s, is Caedmon’s Cross, a memorial to the so-called ‘Father of English Sacred Song’ and with Cadman being my surname, I’ve always had a certain affinity with the area.

This is a simple one colour print from a photograph that I took two weeks ago, standing on Tate Hill Pier, looking up towards St Mary’s Church.

CP Studio Exhibition

My most recent commission was working with a group of 6 other artists, providing pieces based around the vast collection of artefacts held by the Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham. ‘CP Studio’ was set up by artist Paul Evans, and features five ‘Cabinets of Curiosity’ – along the Iines of the so-called ‘cabinets’ (though they were often actually whole rooms) which generally housed “rarities and curious objects from natural history”, started around the 1500s and continuing in popularity until the early 1800s.

As a group, we visited the museum a few times and had a number of ‘Ideas Jams’ before going away to work on our interpretations of the theme. I played with the idea of scale and weight, producing the pieces seen above, based on fossils, Neolithic finds and a Green Man mask. All the pieces were made to look like stone using Modroc and stone-effect spray paint. A phrase used as the title of a film made by artist Neath Champion-Shorr was “False Narratives” and it was this that largely informed my work – trying to keep the viewer guessing about whether the objects were real or false. Two of the pieces give the game away (if you know how to read Oghams) with inscriptions actually stating ‘This is fake’. It was such a pleasure for me, not only to work with other artists for a change, but also to move completely away from printing for a while, and get back to sculpture.

The exhibition is housed in the Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham and runs until the middle of May.

Orkney 3 – Stromness

Although it was the ancient sites on Orkney that we initially went to see (along with the Northern Lights, of course) one of my abiding memories of the visit, was the first Saturday we were there and went to see the town of Stromness. We were genuinely shocked that in the week before Christmas, we were walking down the main High Street in town, on a Saturday lunch time and saw just three other people. Two of them were ladies, standing outside the church gates, giving out sweets to children who may be passing – I’m sure there had been others, but we had the only child on the street at the time! Looking down (or up?) the street, I took this as a photograph, knowing that it would make a good, single colour print. It is such a pretty town with cobbled streets and little alleyways and ginnels (or is that just a Sheffield/North of England word?) but has a very definite ‘arty’ feel to the place with a couple of beautiful galleries and an annual folk festival. We are longing to go back there sometime, and as soon as possible.

Orkney 2 – The Stones of Stennes

This is the second image from our trip to Orkney – the magnificent Stones of Stennes. As with at The Ring of Brodgar, we were completely on our own whenever we visited the stones, again, even at the Solstice. They are in such a beautiful setting, which I’m not sure I’ve managed to capture here, but it acts as a vivid reminder to me.

Landscape

Really, the main reason for this landscape print was that it took me ages to carve the tree for a previous print (Sleeping Dragon) and it seemed a shame to not use it again for a perhaps more ‘conventional’ image. So, I re-carved the tree, added it to a new foreground and used another block of Lino for a fairly generic background that isn’t based on anything in reality but that appealed to me. However, when I inked up and printed the background, I was quite taken with how serene it looked, to the point where I wasn’t sure whether I should put the tree on or not. In the end, I left half the prints with no tree and printed up the others with a tree. There are also a number of different background colours too. I am intending to make both available in my Etsy shop later this week.

Orkney 1 – The Ring of Brodgar

The week before Christmas 2021, we visited Orkney. It was a last minute decision, but to a place I’ve wanted to go for many years; I have always wanted to see the majestic Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stennes, amongst many other ancient and magical sites that I’ve read about for so long. It certainly didn’t disappoint and we picked the perfect week – not too cold, no rain to speak of and very few other visitors. I imagine that during the Summer months it gets pretty crowded, but for us it was ideal. I knew I would get some photographs from which I would be able to make some good prints, but what I didn’t account for was a visit to The Vintage Paper Company in Stromness, where I bought some superb, 1957 Whatman paper. It was thrilling to chat to the owner, a person so passionate about paper, and to look at some of what they have there – sheets of paper from 1785 and even from the 1600s!

This print of The Ring of Brodgar is on the 1957 paper which is such a joy to use and takes the ink so well. It’s a two block print and it’s come out pretty much as I anticipated, hopefully capturing some of the atmosphere we experienced. We were there for the Winter Solstice and found ourselves alone.

Hard Man, Lover

Sometimes I know where the inspiration for an image comes from, and sometimes I have absolutely no idea. This is one of the ones that I have no idea about. It could be something I heard someone say, something I’ve read, something I’ve seen – I just don’t know. I did once write a song called “Fifteen Feet” (to be found on the ‘Music’ page of this site) that has a chorus with the lines, “Well it’s knuckles that say Love, and a heart that’s full of hate” so perhaps it was remembering that which sparked off the idea. Either way, I quite like it. It’s a nice change to do a simple, one colour print. It’s also available in my Etsy shop.

New Lino Cutting Tool

After ripping my fingers to shreds, using a tenon saw on a recent image (see previous post) I decided to try and make a more accurate and safe tool with which to achieve the effect I was after. Shown here is the result; a strip cut off the aforementioned tenon saw, glued into the handle of a size 10 paint brush. I have also done the same thing using a size 6 brush – they both work really well!

Sleeping Dragon

There is a tree, in the car park at Sitwell Infant School, Rotherham, which has a root system that has started growing out of the ground, and looks just like a dragon, curled around the base of the trunk. On the many occasions when I have been waiting to pick my little boy up from school, I have studied the shapes and eventually, felt the need to draw it with a view to creating an image. I remembered a few years ago when I visited Malham Cove in Yorkshire, and took a photograph of the tree on top of the cove (the tree that almost everyone with a camera will take a picture of!) which sits on the limestone pavements. The dragon needed a better tree than the one in the car park, so the images were combined to make the one shown here. More out of idleness than anything else I guess, I didn’t want to carve all the limestone rocks and crevices so tried using the teeth of a tenon saw to scrape fine lines leading towards the focal point ie. the dragon. This worked pretty well (if a little inaccurate) apart from slicing my fingers to ribbons by holding the blade of the saw! (see next post) The image seen here, fits nicely into an A4 frame – a bit bigger than is unusual for me.

You Can Just…

Whilst researching old steel workers and coal miners in South Yorkshire, and particularly Rotherham, I came across some footage of workers at Parkgate Iron and Steel Company, Rotherham from 1901. The footage shows children and adults smiling and playing up for the camera, some dancing, some apparently fighting and just generally looking quite happy, if puzzled, about the cameras actually being there. The blurb that accompanies the film talks about the smiling faces but, it says, some people were angry and some even fighting. However, the two men ‘fighting’ are obviously laughing and the young man who flicks a V sign at the camera is clearly not angry but is full of devilment, and probably doing it for a dare. This is the moment I screen-captured for this print; in my opinion, typical, down-to-earth Northern humour.

It did start me wondering, have there always been those in society, either really or metaphorically flicking a V sign, whilst everyone else follows the general pattern of behaviour? When Stonehenge was being built, or the pyramids being constructed, was there always at least one man who stood back and, sticking two fingers up, said, “Fuck off! What are you doing that for?” Are those people the artists?