At last, with schools starting again, I’m back in the studio with all my necessary equipment and have spent the past two days, happily getting inky fingers and printing. I had a few anxious minutes (well, about an hour really) where I didn’t think I could do it anymore – nothing was going right, smudged prints, blotchy prints, dirty fingerprints on the white card – but eventually, I got into the swing of things and managed to produce some prints I was happy with. These are both on cards – the Drummer Boy is on 7″ x 5″ card, whilst the ‘Union” print is on A5 cards in either green or black.
Due to circumstances often beyond my control, I have been almost frantically cutting lino blocks ready to print. However, having no printing equipment currently to hand, I can only visualise what the finished products will look like when I eventually, hopefully, get back into my studio full-time next week.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this, but if there is a positive to come out of this current pandemic, it is the fact that so many of us have reunited with nature and begun to see what we perhaps had lost sight of. Whilst I live in the (once) Industrial North of England, in the run-down town of Rotherham, I am very fortunate to live in a part of town that is surrounded by woodlands, meadows and even a very beautiful golf course. Our daily walks took us to places we weren’t even aware existed so close to us, particularly through woodlands we have since found to be ancient. There are areas covered with oak trees and it has become so obvious why the ancient people worshipped and revered the mighty oak, and why there are so many stories and legends involving tree spirits. Oak trees in particular, abound with faces and apparently human body-parts; wildly inspirational to me as an artist spending much of my time interpreting myths, legends and the struggle of the natural world to breathe within the modern, city environment.
There is a pretty-much nationwide Victorian legend about a character called ‘Spring Heeled Jack’, who would appear, often to courting couples, frighten them out of their wits, then leap away, often over walls and fences. He acquired his name because of his ability to leap so high with apparent ease. For many years now, I have been aware of a specifically Sheffield version of this legend, the character also being known as The Park Ghost; he would appear around the Park Hill area, particularly near the Cholera Monument which marks the site of a mass grave for victims of the Sheffield Cholera Epidemic in the 1800s.
Taking the face from an adaptation of a gargoyle, I created my own version of what Spring Heeled Jack might have looked like – the silhouette in the background being the aforementioned Cholera Monument.
Having made the Giant Green Man out of discarded tin cans, I wanted to do something useful with it, rather than having it laying on a shelf somewhere. Here is the result; a rather nice table lamp. I would love to be able to say, “and it’s for sale”, but I’m told it’s too good and it’s not leaving our house – sorry!
The time has come around again for the #oneofmanypostcard initiative. Here is my contribution – a limited edition of 20 postcard-sized prints that are free to anyone wishing to have one, on the understanding that the receiver makes a donation to a charity of their choice. The prints are actually an abstraction from a Green Man face, but I have been told they look like either courgettes or melons so take it as you will. If you would like one of the cards, please email your address to: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get one in the post asap.
This was mainly completed as an exercise in lino multi-block registration, but I am pretty pleased with the outcome. The registration isn’t perfect on all of the prints, but I managed to pull off enough copies to make it worthwhile!
Having no other place to exhibit my work during lockdown (apart from online, but that doesn’t really count) I have been displaying cards showing my Green Man design, on trees and gate-posts at various places, whilst out on our daily walks. Despite being in Rotherham, we’re very fortunate to live near fields and woodlands in Wickersley, Rotherham, so the environment is, I feel, fitting for these cards. Although there is the opportunity for feedback (I put my email address on the back) no-one has been in touch – I didn’t really think they would – but at least two of them have been taken, so they are being seen. I’ll never know whether they were taken by people wanting to own the card, or by kids trashing them but either way, they are being interacted with!
Here is the completed print of Cadman Bridge, a bridge built in 1819 over the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal in Sheffield City centre, England. The bridge is on one of the streets or lanes in Sheffield bearing that name – my name. Research shows that my ancestors, the Cadmans, were mostly scissor or knife makers ie. some of the so-called ‘Little Mesters’ who populated the City many years ago, working in Sheffield steel. A couple of years ago, my band played at a wedding in the Millennium Galleries building in the City centre – it was only recently that I discovered the room we were playing in is called The Cadman Room!
The print is a reduction lino-cut, with four layers. I kept it in monochrome as I felt it better reflected the history and culture of the area – there are still small steel workshops there.
This is the final result of a project I’ve had knocking around for a few weeks now. I wanted to make a bigger version of the ‘Tin Can Green Man’ model that I made last year, and have considered buying large sheets of metal. However, on revisiting the original models, I decided it would be interesting to make my own sheet of metal from a collection of discarded drinks cans. The cans were glued together in a patchwork and folded as before. The only new element, was the addition of some metal ivy leaves that were found in my shed during a clear-out. The model is about 40cm