Little Mester

Possibly the most abiding memory of this current pandemic for me, is just what utter disregard the London-based politicians, particularly Boris Johnson and the Tory party, have for the people in the North of England. All data and apparent reactions to data are clearly based on the South (London of course) and the Home Counties, and us Northerners can effectively go to hell! I have always been quite pleased that I am a Yorkshireman and was born and brought up in Sheffield, but this has all served to make me positively proud of those facts. This picture is a result of that feeling. I am descended from a long line of Scissor Makers and cutlers based in Sheffield, where many of them were known as ‘Little Mesters’ – independent craftsmen in small workshops throughout the town. There are a number of Cadman Streets and Cadman Lanes (my surname) named after my ancestors. This design was adapted from a couple of the sculptures on the front of The White Building in Fitzalan Square which is in the town centre.

‘Mester’ is the way a typical Sheffield would pronounce the word ‘Mister’.

Spring Heeled Jack – Again

I was never 100% happy with the original version of my Spring Heeled Jack print, mainly with the head and face – it just didn’t look as I’d imagined it. After a number of variations, I settled on the one shown here, using the goat-head often seen in folklore. I also decided to make a feature of the background, bringing the Victorian legend up-to-date by showing the modern-day Sheffield skyline behind the iconic shape of the Cholera Monument. It was done as a two block reduction print and whilst it’s not technically perfect, I’m pretty happy with the overall atmosphere.

Let’s Dance

More as a diversion than anything else, I decided to redraw and cut a lino print of the logo I have used for many years for my ‘Short Supply’ musical output. I did use it on the label for the one and only 7″ single I put out in the early 1990s, called “The Day The Earth Stood Still”. We (Justin – the vocalist and myself) recorded it in Rotherham at The Powder Room studios. It features cut ups from the film of the same name and a killer chorus – haha!

Stranger Still…

Continuing the series of prints based on the children’s book, “A Stranger Came Ashore”, the image above is from the part in the story where the so-called ‘Guizers’ are dancing from house to house, bringing good luck (Earth Magic) to all and suddenly, everyone is stilled by the awe-inspiring sight of the ‘Merry Dancers’ or the Northern Lights.

The image below is how I imagine the Great Selkie’s Palace; a place under the sea where young, golden-haired maidens have been lured by the Great Selkie to live as his queen, but where ultimately, they will die and their hair be used to make the palace’s roof. This is one of the many stories Old Da tells his grandson Robbie, much to the consternation of the rest of the family who believe the old man, rather than just passing on old legends, is actually ‘filling the young lad’s head with nonsense.’

Salem and Moon – New Print

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.

Green Woman

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.

Cutting Frenzy!

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.

Sacred Oak

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.

Sheffield Spring Heeled Jack

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.

Green Man Lamp

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!