Saturday, 19 September 2020

Last 4 Blind Tiger Circus images

 







Last four images (printed in these colours anyway) finished this week - 

19 - it gets harder to explain without writing out the whole poem but it mentions an empty room and a chair, the poet asks where the tiger comes from, sees the spoor on the floorboards and the delicacy of its footmarks...

we are neither here nor there, left unfurnished....

20 - The Amazing Flying Man; the poem talks of beeswax and feathers and my flying man is like Icarus, leaving the tents far below, ethereal..... but will he fall

21 - the smouldering tiger skull watches the parade pass by from the edge of the forest and the circus move on against the bleak background of the city.....

22 - in the hollow cauldron of the skull are two ghostly puppets, but who is pulling whose strings.....


Thursday, 10 September 2020

Broadband collapse

 Apologies for lack of blogging; our always tenuous internet connection finally caved in and we were without one for over a week - now have temporary computer haven annoyingly right by my printing station, very inconvenient, a different world polluting my sacred space...however, useful for food supplies from the outside world.....

One benefit was that we had to do massive clear and clean up so that BT engineer could enter safely and without touching too much ( or get inky) - not the sort of house for much social distancing; but we now feel virtuous and ready for the winter and good clear-out job does make one feel good and vents a lot of frustrations, and also the discovery of buried stuff can be inspiring ( not needed at this point tho- have enough inspiration already and just need to get things FINISHED ) - P still working on a new computer station where new cable will have to come in and there have been many trips to the dump, encouraging, every cubic centimetre of paper which leaves this house is a minor triumph...

however printing was interrupted! and may be again next week when engineer returns annoyingly...hope I can last 4 images done then...

meanwhile










here is the next batch...bother - the first image of the ant should come between the mother and child image and the acrobats...never mind - I will continue the commentary in the correct order...

image 12 - the bareback rider - the poet talks of 'a woman who has lost her love is trying to catch may petals' and a capsized moon...

in poem 13 there is a child's voice and her mother is calling to her and here they retreat to their caravan - the fringes of the circus are always even more mysterious than the show.....

poem 14 speaks of a sleeping child and 'the ant... who knows the circumference of all things' - and I enjoyed researching flea circuses for inspiration; the wisdom of the ant probably surpasses that of the didactic group of watchers in some things....

15 - is probably the darkest poem/image in the whole set and needs to be read in full to be understood. I made an image On the Edge - we balance precariously on the circumference of our planet at a moment of great decisions. Will we fail the moment. the poet begs the Tiger for 'mercy, mercy, mercy....'

16 The poet says Blind Tiger when will we learn the subtlety of extinction.... and again an edge-land figure - the clown  stands in the wings and looks out at the forest edge...

17 - the poem mentions the elephant and a woman, and miracles of incarnation; the power of nature.

18 but all the images after the acrobats one have taken a more melancholic turn, the figures are all  white - ghosts of themselves.....

to be continued, in ten days time hopefully.....

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Half Way hooray

    Blogging early this week as I  know the next couple of images are going to take longer as I will have to  re-adjust them to fit and follow these 3 now that I am printing them as little books as well as playing cards   - can't change the order as they fit the poems..... 

So we have cards 9, 10 and 11: poem and image 9 introduce Fire and number 10 - the circus Strong Man...he stands like a lumberjack but in his tiger suit, the decapitated head in front of him, what a hero, has he just cut down enough trees to destroy habitat or actually shot the beast. Poem 10 ends - Let in only those who love, the mollycoddlers and embracers, those who absent-mindedly lift a hair from your shoulder. 

Poem 11 says - we have let the tree bleed too long, slaked and gutted    so I have introduced here the Strong Woman standing in front of a plank of a tree - it takes a different kind of strength to stand calm while flaming knives are thrown towards you and aim to pin your shape to the tree.   

This image is half way through the cycle so helps me feel the beginning of the end is in sight ; I am so looking forward to finishing so that I can do them again in a different and darker way ( to say nothing of the drypoint idea) - this is one of the reasons they are taking so long to do as I keep getting new ideas to keep a note of but I cant work on as I go along or it will ruin the blocks for finishing this edition.

And already it is feeling autumnal - the walks in the woods feel suddenly very different, evenings noticeably drawing in, loads of luscious blackberries, and yellow leaves dropped and carpeting the brown forest floor so that the whole wood is glowing; I suppose the drought has contributed to the early leaf drop, and now the strong winds....                                                                  

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Circus poems/images 6-9

  In the first image - no.6  - the poet talks of smoke stained tenements and a woman with stripes across her back like a tiger in a silent room... my tenement has a circus poster and people in the street below.

In image no 7 our poor planet hangs like a party globe upon the world tree, weeping/bleeding from its five wounds - fire , drought, famine, pollution, plague and more......the poet says...'neon strobes the bedroom ceiling, the city's traffic is perpetual'      ...he wants us to return to the forest at night but there are snares - he assures the tiger they were not set by us.........  

In image 8  he talks of.... 'the noise of helicopters shaking the dead in their graves' but my circus image is of a woman being sawn in half - she is associated with the trees as she lies on her plank, part of the forest - where the noise of destruction is terrible and there is an ominous sulphurous coloured sky; her blood drains into the ground.  

Poem 9 again associates   the woman with the tree and the forest is on fire; circus tents are very prone to catching fire and in my image all the animals are fleeing the forest blaze, leaping forward like a picture on a circus poster that we saw on image 6.                                                                                                                                         

Monday, 10 August 2020

Welcome to the Circus

 And apologies for not blogging yesterday - I had a frustrating weekend with a burst boiler hot water pipe so no gas or water as had to turn everything off and it took 3 days to sort a plumber - nightmare; got a nice man today - so very strange letting someone into the house after all this time and dressed like a surgeon with glove and mask to operate on our pipe  from the back garden....

It held up editioning a bit as hard to concentrate but here we are ...    on with the show ......  

and we have agreed I will not print all James's poems except perhaps the first one to start you off so you can see how the words and images are just a counterpoint to each other...then I will write a commentary in normal lettering with maybe further snatches of the poems in italics.

 These circus images are not what you might expect from the poem at first - but jolly circus images show of course violence, animal torment - being ridden and baited and made to perform; a woman being shot upwards in a cannon, having knives thrown at her, being sawn in half .... acts that are on the edge of the abyss, like we are, on the high wire, in the wings, a world on fire, clowns and fools....

I am showing them in order






James' title is Blind Tiger  - subtitle Perfidious Albion

The first one introduces the Tiger: as I explained previously the remaining skull from a taxidermied tigerhead he was given and ritually burned. It faces us menacingly, confrontationally, propelled loomingly from the forest, from within which a small circus tent can be seen glowing in the dark...

underneath the printed image is a faint suggestion of a hand-painted skull , maybe of a human -you can't see it but I know it is there....














here is the first poem:

An offering of grain:

an offering of drink.

Blind Tiger forgive us

for making you a stuffed head:

your jaws set to grimace

for a hundred years:

your eyes as jewels

reflecting the setting 

suns of empires.


Is the tiger listening 

to the trees?

Place its skull in the river,

force open its jaws,

place a leaf on its tongue.














In image 2 we are introduced to a magical creature drawn to the lights of the tent; the forest is full of magical creatures if only we can stop destroying them and their habitat and see their beauty and strangeness, so much they could teach us....the poem describes a  child in the birch bark cot...warm in his bed of moss, in his fish-skin clothes....

Image 3 ...but the forest is burning and we are complicit: the river is drying up to a trickle...Blind Tiger your forests are gone and the rivers silt with effluent.... the borders are diminishing, we are on the edge of catastrophe, the tiger paces within his confines.

Image 4 ...the circus acts begin. We can shoot a woman into space, but it is no use trying to escape the mess on this planet, are we looking for somewhere else to exploit? the poem talks of  ...the wound's dark hole...

Image 5 ...the Fools of the previous 3 packs of images have become Clowns, one of their various manifestations, some less wise than others. We are indeed in the Age of the Buffoon - we are currently led by one. The Clown clutches his bowl - empty of ideas, against the backdrop of the Great Flood (as depicted by Bosch), the Ark abandoned on the mountain top, the land littered with the dead and dying of all species, dog eat dog. The poet wakes to ...stand on this mountain as waters rise...life is ending in a putrid crucible and I am here cupping water.

I put image 6 to balance the set and show how the colours rise and fall but I will start from there next time and continue - hopefully next Sunday if the week is good to me.... it is a long business and will last into September I fear but I am enjoying taking it steadily and it is nice and cool in my basement; rain forecast for the end of the week so darker down there in the late afternoons evenings which may be problematical....

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Editioning


I am quitting overthinking and starting to edition - spent today doing some backgrounds - time to just go for it and then experiment further when I have finished sets of them as cards; these images are still proofs for tweaking but the first three are nearly there...
and below are a few more that are getting there....





Sunday, 26 July 2020

Progress proofs

trials....


















I am taking these photos for myself really to see how the colours begin to hang together...
I have cut lots more blocks for trying different things out
I may end up with 2-3 different sets - a colourful set, a dark set, a very dark set cut in a completely different way, even a drypoint set.... fun fun fun

takes a lot of time though but very therapeutic I am sure....



















I am having lots of lovely walks in the woods as well in the evenings....


















together with my wizard friend.....

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Fool as Amphibian......

...Enid Welsford's book The Fool says that the Fool stands apart from a story ...'equally at home in in the world of reality or the world of the imagination...'
these images are not illustrations but a counterpoint to the poems....
















These are still very rough scribbly proofs mostly hand-coloured for ideas and so very pale at the moment....some still not printed at all.....

Apologies for the long gap - I have been completely re-thinking them after this, cutting extra blocks, re-thinking some existing ones and re-cutting...
and at what seems to be a pivotal time in civilisation ( would we were not just rushing to get back to 'normality' ) - there are some exciting changes afoot in the artworld, perhaps temporary, maybe more permanent....
no more big blockbuster shows for the time being - crowded, inevitably costly and often not a very satisfactory experience, wonderful tho they might be...
to seeing less and marvelling more , a quality experience...
the questioning of the museum's place in our new world, the statue debate, Black Lives Matter,  'Outsider Art' - always a contentious term....
I have been following up on some contemporary artists less well known to me who seem to have interesting solutions and ideas...
all leading inevitably to re-evaluating my own ideas and practise...
no major changes beyond broadening and deepening but always a useful process, especially on days when a certain exhaustion inevitably sets in after 3-4 months of constant work...
It is interesting to consider how much  this initiates the process or whether it is  the work under construction itself which pushes things in new directions...
as does having to work within the limitations of things to hand in some cases.
Limitations always move one towards experimentation so no harm in that, although just currently problematic when 3/4 way through a project which in some ways needs to hang together...

Current technical cogitations centre around the balance between hand-colouring and printing in these new circus cards: I like keeping to the nod to the social and political origins of the hand colouring while also making it work in this case aesthetically.
I am currently trialling a triad of oil-based block over water based block layers plus the hand painting...next week will tell whether it will work.
I am always obsessed by texture, how matt and how shiny, layering and how colours are formed...dates back to all that tempera painting I once did I suppose.

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....