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.

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.

A Stranger Raven

This is the latest image from my series inspired by the children’s novel, “A Stranger Came Ashore” by Mollie Hunter. In this, the finale, Robbie is standing on the edge of a ‘voe’ (a bay or inlet in the Shetlands) about to be beaten by The Great Selkie when, as promised, his school teacher Yarl Corbie appears in his ‘other’ magical form as a gigantic Raven, and attacks the Selkie, gouging out his eyes and sending him off into the ocean, never to entice the young girls into his underwater palace again.

This was quite a tricky reduction print, using two blocks and a lot of fingers-crossed guesswork! I did also cut a larger (A4) version of the raven to be printed independently.

Avebury Magic

For some time now, I have been wanting to make a print of the magical stones to be found at the World Heritage Site of Avebury – one of the biggest stone circles in Europe. Having tried (and failed miserably) to do a collagraph print, I settled back on a lino cut. However, this time I used sponges rather than rollers to apply the inks to give it more of a textured finish. Whilst there are undoubtedly some flaws evident, I am generally very pleased with the finished result; there is a very graphic quality to the image but that reflects my drawing style, which has always ended up with quite well-defined, thick lines, even when I try not to!

A Place To Rest

Having come to the end of their time in the chapel at Wentworth Woodhouse, I was delighted to be asked if I would consider placing them in the ‘Forest Classroom’ at St Thomas’ Primary School in Rotherham. Of course I agreed, and spent a wet morning positioning them appropriately. It was quickly apparent that this was where they truly belonged; nestled amongst the trees and bushes, enhanced by, and enhancing the natural setting. I realise that, being made from MDF, the panels probably won’t last very long before rotting, but that too seems an appropriate end to their life.

One of Many Time Again

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: grooveware.art@gmail.com and I’ll get one in the post asap.

Lockdown Exhibition

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!