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?

If God Invented Owt Better…

For many years now, I have kept a little book in which I note down anything I hear people say or anything I might read that either amuse me or that I just want to remember. Quite obviously (I hope!) based on “Absinthe” by Edward Degas, the idea for this image came to me as we were setting our gear up on the stage for a gig at Maltby Catholic WMC a couple of years ago. The concert chairman climbed into his little box at the side of the stage, took the first sup of his pint of bitter (beer), smacked his lips and said, “If God invented owt better, he hid it.” He undoubtedly said this every night but it amused me and the phrase had to go into my book. There was a later conversation across the room when he asked if a lady had any plasters in her bag as he had cut his finger. She answered that she hadn’t, so he asked what he was going to do. Her answer also had to go into my book – “Tha’ll have to bleed to death won’t tha’!” It was all very light-hearted and full of laughter, typical Northern humour.

Sheffield – My Home Town

Back when I was at university studying art, I based a series of prints on Park Hill Flats, in my hometown of Sheffield. Many considered them to be an eye-sore but I always loved the lines and angles and especially how the new mixed with the old – quite a common feature of the architecture in the city at the time. I took many photographs, this being one that I never actually used at the time. The current government has an obvious disdain for the North of Britain, and clearly don’t care or really know anything about the region in which I live, the pandemic heightening this utter disregard. I have always been a reasonably proud Yorkshireman but never quite as much as I am now – angered and saddened by the aforementioned lack of thought about anywhere north of Watford. I am made in Sheffield.

These were the background layer but I think I actually prefer them in some ways to the finished image with all the detail.

Faces Everywhere!

If you’d asked me to draw a picture of Bacchus (Roman god of wine and pleasure – originally of fertility) I’m not sure what it would have come out like, but this face is taken directly from a knotty lump on a tree in Clifton Park, Rotherham, that just shouted out “Face!” at me! I quickly drew it, cut and printed it, only then realising that it was exactly how I imagine the god Bacchus to look – bucolic, laughing and with an ever-so-slightly manic look in his eyes. I usually try my very best to not have the surrounding background ‘chatter’ or ‘noise’ in a print, but on this occasion felt it somehow added to the laughter emanating from his face.

Skater Girl

A one-off print for a very special little girl’s third birthday. She is already skating and loves being on the ice. The colour has been chosen specifically as it has a link to her name – other colours are available!

Castlerigg Stone Circle

I’ve been wanting to make a print of this for some time now. It is taken from an original photograph of mine, which was taken early one morning at the site, high up on the hills near Keswick in the Lake District. It is a very beautiful place and can often be quite busy, but get there early and you can have the place all to yourself, as we did on this occasion. I tried to keep the print simple, focusing on the actual stones rather than the surrounding hills. The colours are nothing like representative of what is there, but I’m pretty happy with the result.

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have been neglecting my blogging duties lately, mainly because I have been desperately trying to get various ideas out of my head and onto paper! The first two images shown were inspired by a visit to St Peter’s Church in Conisbrough; one of the oldest buildings in South Yorkshire. This visit had been inspired by reading the book “South Yorkshire Folk Tales” which mentions what is thought to be either a Viking or Saxon tomb cover that can be seen inside the church. The stone is carved with what appears to be a figure, possibly St George, defending a cowering Bishop from a dragon. I took the theme and researched examples of knights, bishops and dragons depicted in Medieval art to make a composite image. The smaller “face” print is a two dimensional representation of a carving to be found on one end of the same tomb cover.

We spent some of the Summer holidays in Northumberland and on the East coast of Yorkshire. I took photographs of images I already had prepared in my head (from previous visits to these places) to produce the prints of Lindisfarne Castle and a couple of small fishing boats in the harbour at Staithes near Whitby. I also have a couple more prints ready to go when I get a lull (haha!) You see, I can’t even switch my mind off when I go on holiday! I am currently working on three images, one at the carving stage, one at the inking stage and one at the initial drawing stage.

Wistman’s Wood

Another two block, reduction print, but this time using Ternes Burton registration pins – a world of difference and how on earth I managed before, I really don’t know! This is the first time ever that I have started on a print run of ten and ended up with ten good prints – hurray! The image is of Wistman’s Wood, a particularly twisted and tangled woodland in Dartmoor, in places so dense that it is almost impossible to get through. Everything there seems to be green – the mossy stones, the leaves, the tree trunks – hence the overall green colour of the print.