I was recently one of five artists commissioned by ROAR (Rotherham Open Arts Rennaissance) to produce a ‘Trail’ that would give people the opportunity to explore the local environment, whilst helping with their physical and emotional well-being. I decided to try and get people to look around at the decorations and embellishments found on many buildings in the town centre, drawing them and building them into a composite Green Man figure. (Rotherham Minster has a renowned example of a Green Man carving) Whilst planning the trail, I was actually inspired to do the activity for myself – something I found hugely enjoyable and which resulted in the image shown. The project is called RothTrails and can be accessed from the ROAR website.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.