This image started life as a drawing of an Asrai – a sea creature with webbed feet and hands, that is occasionally but rarely seen by man. However, half-way through the designing process, I decided to change it to a mermaid as this is an image more people would be familiar with. The design is printed using Traditional Gold Ink on blue, Japanese Washi Paper.
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!
For the November round of the “One of Many Postcard” initiative, I decided to take the image of the Green Man that can be seen carved at the top of one of the columns inside Rotherham Minster. The original carving has the traditional vines issuing from the mouth but I wanted to isolate (and flatten) the face. The postcard version was slightly cropped to fit the card size, but here is the full, uncropped version. The background was made using sponges rather than a roller.
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.
Whilst it might seem to some that this print goes against my self-imposed remit of “Contrasts and Anomalies”, the very fact that it is not obviously in keeping with my other work is actually a contrast! However, I would maintain that a black cat easily falls in with my other work, in that it is often the subject of other-worldly superstition and legend, much like the Green Man figure. The picture is of our own cat, appropriately named Salem, and she does look in a somewhat sombre mood. The registration isn’t perfect and I am intending to hand paint the eyes next week, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turned out. It is printed on 7×5″ cards and on a limited run of A4 Hoshi paper. They are for sale, please get in touch – through my Instagram page (@grooveware_art) is probably the easiest way, as I haven’t got around to setting up a shop yet. I will soon.
In an effort to redress the balance somewhat, I have carved and printed my version of a Green Woman, or Mother Nature. The idea is that the face is seen in a tree branch, surrounded by foliage. I have printed this image on white A6 cards and on brown, recycled paper. I am planning on reprinting the image but with a background texture, printed from a highly grained piece of wood.
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!