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.
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!
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!
This is the final result of a project I’ve had knocking around for a few weeks now. I wanted to make a bigger version of the ‘Tin Can Green Man’ model that I made last year, and have considered buying large sheets of metal. However, on revisiting the original models, I decided it would be interesting to make my own sheet of metal from a collection of discarded drinks cans. The cans were glued together in a patchwork and folded as before. The only new element, was the addition of some metal ivy leaves that were found in my shed during a clear-out. The model is about 40cm
For my next image in the ‘Shouting at The World’ series, I have combined two of the gargoyles/grotesques I found on the churches in Lincolnshire, with a Sheela-na-gig found on The Church of St Mary and St David, in Kilpeck, Herefordshire. Having spent quite a lot of time working with various images of the Green Man, I felt it was time to redress the balance somewhat and feature this ancient, scared female form which can be found, in various forms, throughout the world.
There have been some beautiful sunny days during this period of lockdown. Having used the time-lapse function on my phone whilst on a bike ride (see earlier post), I used the same function, setting the phone up on the roof of a shed in the garden and left it to record the passing of clouds for an hour. It was a relatively still, calm day with no discernible movement – the film shows otherwise! The music is ‘A Sprinkling of Clouds’ by Gong, from the album ‘You’ – a classic if ever there was one.
Still not able to get into my studio (‘Essential travel’ only rule still applies) I decided to set myself the challenge of drawing, cutting and printing an image in one day. Not only that, but decided to try my hand at a self-portrait. Having never attempted a portrait of any kind, self or otherwise, the fact that the resulting image looks vaguely human is a bonus to me! I’m told I look tired – oh well, so be it. I have gone for the negative rather than positive lines simply because of the time constraints and the difficulties of working at a small scale (15cm x 8cm) – I only have a small printing press available at home.
A project conceived some time ago, I finally got around to printing this image as a greeting card, complete with hand-cut type. The design is a lino-cut based as closely as possible on the patterns created by inking up an origami face – seen in an earlier post. I have been asked if anyone would want a card that says ‘Shout!’ but I think it is appropriate for any occasion: shout “Hurray it’s your birthday!”, shout “Congratulations on your new job”, shout “It’s a Boy!” and so on – the possibilities are endless, it just depends what message you choose to write inside.
Obviously, due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, working in my studio is not an option. This has kind of put the brakes on my visual art output, as I don’t have the equipment at home to do the printing I had planned. However, I am allowed to leave the house for exercise once a day, so have been riding my bike around Rotherham, often going through the centre of town where, clearly, there aren’t any people anymore. Today, I decided to strap my iPhone to the handlebars and, using the Time Lapse function, film part of the trip. The accompanying music is an original composition.
Having tied up the ‘loose ends’ of my Green Man project (though it still lurks!) it seems a natural progression to move onto using other ancient forms as inspiration for my next work. Though we’ll never really know what was in the minds of the people who carved the gargoyles and grotesques found on many old churches (though there are many theories put out there), on a recent visit to the churches of St. Wulfrum’s in Grantham, and St Cuthbert’s in Great Gonerby, Lincolnshire, I was struck by just how many of the characters seemed to be shouting. What at? Why? It doesn’t matter, shouting at the world is ever-present. #SATW