Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Updates on tarot pack 4 - Fire




















Very indistinct, especially with the horrid new pink-middled wood, but just as evidence of progress - 22 newly cut images awaiting another mammoth printing session; they really do need to be seen in conjunction with the poems, and of course they will print mirror image, and the colour will be everything. Some of them already have second block cut and others may need one too once I see how they print and hang together....
Have just finished reading Olga Tokarczuk - Drive your Plow over the Bones...- Blake-ean, environmental crisis and particularly re- animals - perfect accompaniment to doing  this cutting ...

Friday, 26 June 2020

Brand New set in progress.......

No pics today but there were a lot the last few posts...
the new project is developing apace, a fourth tarot pack , as the poet James Simpson (that regular readers will know I work with a lot) discovered that his set of Blind Tiger Sonnets that he had been wanting me to work with for some time were actually 22 in number - so how could I resist......

and I finally found a way in, and with dealing with the Tiger - as our work is mainly ecologically based and coming from the Down-land which we both live among and love deeply, so that the Tiger , with or without his Blake-ean associations has to be carefully accommodated....
and my way in was by basing the set of images around the idea of the circus....
the Fool has become a Clown, combining his two aspects, his immense wise sadness and his buffoonery and stupidity....
and if the first three sets dealt with the elements of Earth ( Trees) Air ( covid pestilence) and Water (Flooding), then this last set - crying out for completion, is Fire ....the fiery colours of the Tiger, the rings of fire, the firing of people through cannons, and animals and clowns jumping through burning rings etc etc
there is also room for the equivalence with what is happening to our forests, sawing in half, burning, setting on fire and the fleeing of wildlife, as animals flee from burning circus tents when previously lit by live flame and hot lights  and sparks.....so lots to think about.
The idea took hold very quickly like wildfire and I have completed 22 drawings in 3-4 days and am now starting cutting the blocks - there may be more than one block to an image this time and they will look possibly very different from previous sets; colour and type of colour will be of paramount importance.... we are both very excited.....

the drawings are still in a fragile creative state so I won't be showing them as before - yet anyway - and will try and have some prints or cuts at last to show by the end of next week for blogging....

although lockdown is easing I absolutely have no desire to break out from my lovely creative bubble and sit on a hot beach or go shopping  and mingle with crowds - the occasional walk in a dark deserted wood nearby - is is the furthest I am wandering these hot light June evenings;
James and I communicate via the telephone and emails and this blog (but I did email him the new set of drawings for comment without you this time ) - currently he is now writing poems to the sets of tree images particularly, so we are working in tandem in opposite ways, I am imaging to his words and he is wording to my images; we like doing this and I am looking forward to him sending me some of his results......

eventually we may be able to share some of all this with you... keep checking ...
I will try and blog once a week but the midsummer weeks are vital for long sessions and need to be utilised to the utmost..... and oh dear , the evenings are already drawing in folks.... carpe diem.....

Sunday, 21 June 2020

2 More Complete Sets

Ship of Fools -

























































































Fool Gets Sick


























































































Friday, 19 June 2020

Complete Set - Kindness of Trees

Gosh - 10 days since I last posted - sorry - I was doing boring printing all the time, well a bit boring for you , not so much for me although arduous.
I also re-cut and printed one of the original flood ones too and tinkered around, and finding I didn't have complete sets for some images and having to reprint another one.....
anyway here is the complete set of Trees - just in time for Midsummer....
in no particular order of course because designed to be moved around...

I will try and post up the complete sets of the other two titles over the weekend - have had to do a lot of tidying and cleaning to find a space to lay them all out on the floor - but tidying is always cathartic before starting a new project and clearing the decks of old ones - tho there is plenty of repetitive work left to do cutting and glue-ing, not to mention printing books not yet proofed......
but I will start the new project while I am excited about it and save the other work for therapeutic days in between creative frenzy.....,
lordy - nearly the end of June already.....time marching on....



Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Ibis























This phoenix-y sort of ibis tree is the last card of the Fool gets Sick set - I printed it today have sorted the cards into the 2 sets of 22
Ship of Fools... in no particular order, because they are designed to be moved around....


















and Fool gets Sick - likewise, with roughs in place a couple of days ago before I editioned properly....


















This is probably a good point to stop blogging daily and I will be printing the third Kindness of Trees set for the next week or so, mainly the same images but with a couple of additions or colour changes maybe...I will post up a complete set of those soon..
and then of course I will have to cut and glue the backs and show them as cards...
and I still have the bigger book to prints of Fool gets Sick and possibly find a better title,....

so keep an eye out for further info after or during my printing marathon over the next week or longer... thanks to those who stayed the course so far.....

Monday, 8 June 2020

Hope




















More night-time shots; I suppose these are hopeful sort of prints....

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Rabbits out of Hats......














Rather a dark pic as I worked late on a wet and dark evening - trying to get finished ; trolley pic one, a curious denizen of the forest, and we need to bring a rabbit out of a hat..... the magician card editioned at last....

Friday, 5 June 2020

Trees have Eyes
















Today's offerings - Trees have Eyes, and bandaged too they watch us in despair...
the third image was originally called queuing....

...a couple of days ago there was a dead baby crow lying on a grave when I went for my walk, rather poignant - on its back, it was fully feathered but small ; the next day it had gone - something had been at it already and today there was no sign of it dragged anywhere else...
the rats are starving in their nests we are told, resorting to cannibalism , as the normal food rubbish we leave around from takeaways and restaurant bins is severely depleted....part of our strange symbiosis....
I expect the seagulls are peckish too....

Thursday, 4 June 2020

print progress

slow but steady......


Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Iced bun time again...




































I am in full flood again, in more ways than one, edition-ing new images for all three packs , these two new ones on the right to go with the Ship of Fools pack,
Fool nearly up to his neck in trouble;
 and hands raised - in supplication - around the globe at the injustices of this world
( if that all sounds familiar raise your hands and voices too).....

I was listening to the brilliant Jane Goodall on radio4 yesterday in The Life Scientific, such a gentle and modest person and so incisively clear and articulate as to the biological and social reasons for the covid pandemic and what we are doing to ourselves and the planet and in allowing such inequality in the world - then I heard she was speaking shortly to the World Health Association - I hope they listened....

I was laying out today's printing to dry carefully - seeing each wet print didn't touch the next - and suddenly realised that in my subconscious I was absent-mindedly addressing a silent dictate on social distancing....weird how quickly these things have become part of us and our vocabulary.....

a sad day as it was dull and rainy- excellent for the ground and the land, but sad for my extremely aged mother who had been planning a socially distanced lunch in her garden for her birthday; and sad for another member of my family's big wedding anniversary - surprise weekend abroad 'postponed', no meal out; and for me to hear that my oldest grandson is now apparently unrecognisable, having suddenly done the growth spurt and his new deep voice stabilised - when will I meet up with him again and witness this transformation in the flesh?

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The Falconer























I found this block, untested, on the back of another - the Falconer - from way back when I started off these cards and used colours already mixed which seemed just right;
but who is the predator and who the prey.....

I sent this image to my sister-in-law - we exchange images as communication during lock-down and she sends me pictures of her amazing garden - she asked what the story was....
I must say I use my intuition as to the images in my 'tarot' pack and am beholden to no particular system, but I can usually find arguments for inclusion afterwards - I knew there used to be The Falconer as a card in very early packs which was enough to set me off...
 but I checked further today and found he was replaced by The Papesse, and is related also to Mercury the messenger ( an old favourite character of mine) - and also Horus the Egyptian God of the Sky, son of Isis ad Osiris; Horus = God on High, and falcon-headed he is fierce and merciless; he avenged his father's murder
and so stands for the defeat of a false philosophy and the triumph of a true one....
so - great! I knew he needed to be in my wood.... bring on the triumph of the true...

I have always felt a great attraction to falcons and birds of prey particularly, and I did a huge installation many years back called The Falcon Bride - see my archive website....

Monday, 1 June 2020

glorious 1st June

















Spent time cutting and re-cutting and playing with my Tree of Eyes - probably works best more emblematic tho may use  the bark close-up as a part of packaging maybe, for tree set....























and I'll print off some Blemmyae tomorrow - I think he'll work fine in the forest.....

Sunday, 31 May 2020

more blocks




































More blocks including the skeleton on the globe ...and trying out different ways of doing different images - proof will be in the printing on the simpler ones...then last minute I have started cutting another one of a close up of a tree with eyes all over it I saw at the bottom of the graveyard doing my tree deep breathing yoga ( self devised) - so many phone calls (nice) needed something to do with my hands...

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Skeletons




working on the edge of bad taste, kitsch, the gothic, and universal symbolism it is good to have antecedents and a tradition of art and print history behind one.....the danse macabre theme began in a Parisian cemetery in the early 1400's and continued across Europe for over 400 years, an inspiration to lead a good life and as a method of social comment for artists/caricaturists like Thomas Rowlandson as in the English Dance of Death 1815.....

Friday, 29 May 2020

more new cuts















Where is the child in all this? - is this a child? a Fool's child? or a child fool? facing a blank future in an immense dark wood, no hands, no arms, no mouth, powerless, but taking it all in??
then bandaged trees: and two more flooding images...

I keep thinking my Fool looks a bit like Frankenstein's monster with all his bandages...
and actually this morning I was reading about Mary Shelley's later book The Last Man  published 1826, about a global plague at the end of the 21st century wiping out all but one man on the planet - how prescient of her - after writing Frankenstein in the year of the great grey winter that followed the eruption and ash-fall across the globe of Mount Tambora in 1816. She then lost her husband Shelley by drowning, two of their three toddlers, the death of Byron from sepsis, and her brother from the cholera pandemic that followed the volcanic eruption, and isolated herself because of all the gossip that surrounded her and her friends, writing her own Journal of Sorrow, not published until 1987.....
Eileen Hunt Botting , has written a book Artificial life after Frankenstein to be published later this year - she writes -
By identifying thus with the plague in her private journal and The Last Man, Shelley confronted the stark fact that humanity is the author of its own disasters, even those that seem purely natural or beyond our control....we are the problem behind and the potential solution to the pandemic....

Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft had written in her journal in 1795 on her intrepid trip to Norway on a mission for her lover Gilbert Imlay..
The view of this wild coast, as we sailed along it, afforded me a continual subject for meditation. I anticipated the future improvement of the world....carried my speculations so far as to advance a million or two of years to the moment when the earth would perhaps be so perfectly cultivated and so completely peopled as to render it necessary to inhabit every spot...pictured the state of man when the earth could no longer support him. Whither was he to feel from universal famine?....and the world appeared a vast prison....
more covid reading indeed.....

Thursday, 28 May 2020

More fools and easing......























More fools from the Fool gets Sick story for the tarot cards.....including on trolleys and queuing in the forest, and the wooden box theme....

An annoying day with broadband dropping in and out all day , but apart from that spent all day cutting, and a really interesting morning of programs on radio 4, including one on medieval marginalia and the imaginative crude and funny images therein and why they might have been created, as acts of turning the world upside down, coping with the tedium of scribes hand-copying manuscripts, cocking a snook at biblical authority
....lovely comments by cartoonist Martin Rowson about why we draw and doodle, presenting a world to ourselves that we might like to live in...
lots of useful stuff about order and disorder next to each other! ...'the process of finding meaning is edifying'...wish I could remember it all but people kept phoning me up ( also with useful info and stuff...) I must listen again....
and they mentioned blemmyae amazingly!! see above....definitely lets hear it for blemmyae...
lots about laughing skeletons too, I must do one in current circumstances, I do have a drawing to hand as it happens, with an egg timer - a good XR icon....used by Rowlandson in cartoons 250 years ago at least.....will photo tomorrow maybe...

I suppose we should be celebrating reductions in lock-down soon but I am going nowhere fast - can't trust this bumbling governments schemes that go off half cock with nothing properly prepared, to say nothing of DC fiasco; I welcome more freedom for the young and fit but personally I will feel less safe now than before - will happily stick to my routines.....
however maybe by the end of the month I should stop blogging daily - I will have done it for two solid months - I will still do it once or twice a week maybe when I have plenty to show and more stuff finished - such a pile of finishing printing and binding mounting up.....

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Back in my own little wood...



...all I see is green out of my window; summer foliage is setting in fast like the sleeping beauty story; gazing out I caught a magpie approaching the hedge looking for eggs in the blackbird and sparrows nests under my nose - was able to clap my hands and scare it away - it retreated to the far tree and skulked and no doubt sulked...
otherwise I have been drawing up blocks all day, apart from back to the graveyard walk, where the geography was completely changed after a day away, with many of the daisies mown closely, (but still plenty left in places) so - surprisingly different yet again and still a delight.....



I even got a blemmyae cut - but it is that wretched pink layered plywood again, very annoying....

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

A trip to the outside world

If listening to news from the outside world has seemed distanced and unreal it is now becoming a complete farce, a daily sit-com evoking horror and grim hilarity in equal portions.
I decided to venture out today on P's monthly trip-round-the-block-to-keep-the-car-going, and to get a glimpse of what it was like around town (quiet) and before venturing down to my studio to look for some prints for someone, armed with gloves, a scarf for emergencies, and large bag for garnered treasures. It was so nice to be back in there, and perfectly secure once I had navigated the high street - and it felt good to break out from our bubble before we get completely stuck in our ways.....adjust my poor longsighted eyes to a farther horizon....

otherwise I was drawing up blocks all day, after a series of debates - wanting to do more, not liking my drawings, do the sets really need more? yes actually the do look livelier and more coherent with the additions this morning, and 22 cards ( the grand arcana) is a good system to adhere to anyway, and some of these ideas MAY work and provide more story etc etc
and anyway any left over can be part of a new set and join a few others discarded along the way as they didn't fit in, good to have a few spares...it is like introducing new puppies or kittens to an existing household of animals - gently gently and be prepared for some spats along the way - it might all settle down...


and it is lovely working upstairs on drawing and cutting in this amazing hot sunny weather.
lovely also to have had some new stuff delivered and not be rubbing out pencil  on old bits of tracing paper  (and re-using rather manky backs of old woodblocks) - a roll of paper too rather than A4 sheets that wasted strips - I am frugal by nature anyway but I use so much paper I owe it to the planet to be economical.



....some roughs printed at the weekend, some of which may end up elsewhere.....the really tarot set maybe, including Fortitude, and the Magician - with all the hands and the rabbit but no hat...

Monday, 25 May 2020

Bank Holiday Blue

Have been drawing all day so it seems a good day to post up a couple of images: my vulture Fool in a tree - and the image which inspired it, which actually which turned up fortuitously while I was riffling through papers - or at least the photocopy I took, as the original is somewhere in a pile waiting to be printed over... Steve Bell nailed his victim perfectly as usual, as today's events have shown in the rose garden....



Sunday, 24 May 2020

Blocks in progress
























Played around with these blocks - might show the prints tomorrow; I like seeing how they look here in close proximity - tho of course in mirror image.
Friends and family want a few separate cards for presents but it is hard to find suitably cheery ones;
yesterday P was muttering about Disasters of War when he saw them all spread out on the table - flattering but I didn't think they were that gloomy, and in fact rather too frivolous at times - I am now plotting a really bleak and sinister set as drypoints in monochrome dark colour, I have been wanting to do some drypoint ones since I saw some old french revolutionary playing cards in Lausanne a few years ago...
hope life and the days are long enough...
meanwhile covid book list update - am enjoying finishing Consolations of the Forest - Alone in a Cabin in the Middle Taiga - Sylvain Tesson - given to me at Christmas with great foresight (premonition?) by a good friend....
Feeling less ache-y today, and after 2 grey windy days staying in my insect bitten/plant lashed ankles are recovering from too much nature, I couldn't believe how many bites and itchy allergic blobs I was developing ...... but I braved a quick spin out tonight and rewarded with a new shimmering haze of ox eye daisies now out in full bloom and the beginnings now of ladies bedstraw, the rain has got new things growing....

Saturday, 23 May 2020

A Full Spread to date


















I woke up feeling exhausted and with more bone-ache than usual so decided it was time to have a day taking it easy, the printing has been fairly relentless to get a couple sets of ten done in a day. I spread all those done so far over the table to have an idea of what they all looked like together and where to go next - I felt I was down to last tricky blocks with no great excitement to print the next. I started doing test prints of them in various different colours still left mixed and will look at them again tomorrow - I have to get used to some of them as they disturb the skin of the equilibrium  - which can be good or bad or lead to future progress.....or not.
I have them in two putative sets but may shuffle and make new ones - try putting all the trees together and all the fools together, or try making two smaller sets and the beginning of a third, either way think about some new images to draw up and cut where I can see gaps or imbalance in the story; if I am still ache-y tomorrow that will be a nice gentle thing to do - brain ache but not arm ache...

Friday, 22 May 2020

More Trees






















The Ram headed God was a God of Water and the source of the Nile - and hence fertility; he should really be in my first set about flooding, but he also seems to go well with this foxy looking lady tree who has a touch of Kali about her - both look not to be messed with and strong trees......
I am enjoying giving my trees animal heads and have a bird headed one to print too.
I was interested to read about Blemmyae's in Hartnell's Medieval Bodies book as I have always been mystified by these ubiquitous representations of men from foreign parts with faces on their chests and no heads - he explains them (beyond likening them to our little green men from Mars):
heads came in the top ranking of body parts for the medieval mind so it was natural to see supposed inferior creatures with their heads in rank 2 on their chests, and if the human form was made in God's image then to have no head was decidedly unchristian - or to frame it another way, to not be Christian was to have no head.
Makes perfect sense; I shall enjoy making a print of my own blenmmyae maybe with a tree topping his chest - which will  make him like another medieval creature the mandrake root of course - as recent research shows trees are possibly more intelligent and humane than we are ( tongue in cheek)...

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Embracing Tree and Fool and Planet

...And now a filling has fallen out but the dentist is as reluctant to see me as me him so we are on an equal footing at last - I'll survive.....





















Apologies - the prints curl when they are still damp; it is not a fool moon but definitely a planet, its was difficult getting the colours right and other less moon-like ones just didn't work; or imagine it as a big round egg, incipient. I forgot to record yesterday that it was a world Bee day I think, definitely worth celebrating, and it was also announced that French astronomers had recorded seeing the emergence of a new planet. The poor earthbound Fool aspires to a better beginning, a rebirth - as one vainly hopes might happen once the current disaster is over, a redirection to a fairer system of wealth distribution and happiness for all including all the inhabitants of our globe - or is he somehow offering up this one? or chasing the Moon? or is it just a big bubble, world as illusion.....
the tree offers itself as comforting mantle or coat   

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Falling Fools






















You can see I finished late in the day as the images get dimmer and bluer to photograph....
I spent the morning trying out several new blocks trying to get the feel of the new landscape, it was as though there had been a disturbance in the force and I needed to adjust...
not sure about these falling fools and how they will fit in but we needed some darker tones
and I am working on some rather darker tree totems....
there's a nasty seam running through the wood on the right hand one but maybe it works - as tho he is held by a spiders web maybe...

after the incident of you give me the willis in the graveyard I thought I should wash my hair too - perhaps I do look really frightful flitting through the graves, going grey, broke into a new pack of henna - hope stocks hold....

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Sick Fool





















I spent the morning making drawings for more cards - I am beginning to see more images I need; only one printed satisfactorily today - the cutting marks make him look pockmarked like Grunewald's flagellated Christ but that's ok. I need to do more cutting on the other couple of blocks I tried as well, and even so they may look better in a third set with more obviously tarot-like emblematic images - or else I haven't found the right colouring for them yet, often it works straight away but if it doesn't it seems hard to readjust; or they may look better printed over newspapers as palimpsests.
It was a beautiful warm sunny day which made me want to work in a sunny room with the window open rather than in the basement, and also tidy up a bit.

The graveyard walk seems to get harder work up and down but it may be just the height of the plantain, rye grass and marguerite daisies wrapping themselves round my ankles; the elder is in flower now too looking very creamy - always something new to notice - a yellow leaved holly tree today in flower with white clusters like the carol.... but they have started mowing around the graves again bit by bit - all flesh is grass as the Straw Bear said, earning himself a place in my pack....
A young man parking his car asked if I was alive - overdosed on Gisele obviously - I said I was but that I only came out at dusk.....