The Enfolding Landscape Revealed

Finally the first Turkish Map Fold Book thing is made!

Its been almost a year since I first had the idea during last years Watershed Residency. These links will take you to the posts in my Catchwater Blog where I started developing the concept of the Enfolding Landscape: Interconnections,    The Enfolding Landscape.

I wanted to focus on revealing the hidden, the obscure, the seemingly insignificant and the overlooked within the natural environment. The kind of things you only notice if you look really closely, especially in the South Pennine uplands where the landscape can frequently seem to be a vast wasteland of moor  grass, rushes and heather with very little going on.

I knew that any work on this theme would need to employ folding in one form or another because the fold has become an increasingly important element in my work, as a philosophical and intellectual idea as well as a physical component of the artwork itself.

The Turkish map fold encourages the user to take an dynamic role in the act of revelation - you choose the degree of exposure depending on how far back the fold is expanded.  ( I know this is true of any image in a book but somehow the extra folds make it seem more active I think).

Shame the photos are so dark but all the lovely sun has disappeared and the gloomy rain has come back again.

Hand tinted version of sheep vertebrae woodcut

Here's the sheep vertebrae woodcut with its hand tinting completed. I've aimed to show the bones peeping through the Crowberry, with the white bone contrasting strongly against the dark earth and the green leaves.

The map fold concept I'm planning requires a cover and I've continued the Crowberry motif with the addition of the blue/black berries that develop during the summer:

Somehow an element reminiscent of European Mille-Fleur tapestries from the Middle Ages has developed although that wasn't in my mind at the start.  It must be something to do with bright colour on a dark ground and the detailed scrutiny of small plant forms.  I don't mind though, as I think those tapestries are beautiful and a bit mysterious.

I want the foldouts to be affordable so I'm going to make an unlimited edition using commercial/digital printing.  Today was spent fighting with a hot computer trying to sort out the double-sided printing and getting the colours right - very frustrating and did not get to go out in the blazing sunshine like I wished.

Developing an image for a woodcut print

Off and on since February I've been struggling with this print of 3 vertebrae from a poor old sheep that didn't survive the harsh winter up on the moor.  Its a companion piece to the curlew's nest.

I started off with a blurry photo taken in a hurry (I wish I'd brought the bones home with me but had nothing to carry them in and didn't fancy 'contaminating' my pocket).

Here's the original drawing I showed in an earlier post.

My usual process is to make drawings in pencil or pen to understand the subject. The problem I find with these initial drawings though is that they're the wrong way round in terms of positive and negative.

So the next stage is developing the image on black paper with white paint. To me this makes far more sense as the white marks replicate the cuts and gouges made in the wood with my tools.  The white on black is great for exploring mark making and getting a feel of how the final print might look.

I always darken my printing blocks before cutting and use Royal white graphite paper to transfer the reversed image. The white transfer paper isn't that common but I know you can get it mail order from the Heaton Cooper Studio here

Originally the image was just the bones and the crowberry plant but this ended up looking too starkly emblematic so I needed to add the grass. But then the bones lost their impact and I had to rework them to increase contrast.

This is the final black and white proof of the print.

Ultimately the plan has always been that both the bones and the eggs are to be part of the Enfolding Landscape series and will become folded 3D objects (Turkish Map Folds).  I'm still working on the covers and other details but should be able to show you soon.

Curlew Sex!

On the way home from delivering work to Masham and a recce to Grassington for the festival Art Trail, we were whizzing down the big road from Skipton to Keighley this afternoon when over in the field what did we see - mating Curlews!

All I can say from the brief viewing as we flashed by is: it seemed to involve careful beak placement, precise balancing and a lot of wing flapping, as you might expect.

Alternative Curlew Dance

Can't decide if I prefer this one or not.  Constructive criticism welcome.

Curlew Dance

Playing around with  photos taken this morning on High Brown Knoll.  A lovely walk but sad to see the remains of some Curlew eggs predated by crows.  The harsh side of nature.

Busy, Busy, Busy and Too Near The Bone

Hard work these past few weeks, getting work finished and framed for an exhibition at The Gallery in Masham called Close To Home starting on 19th May.

I've chosen to interpret the theme in terms of uplifting and contemplative landscape features near my home.  I thought about including the new woodcut of sheep vertebrae lying amongst crowberry on the moor as it provides a counterpoint to the Curlew's eggs and reflects on the eternal cycle of life and death. However, I decided not to as the exhibition is helping to raise funds for Herriot Hospice Homecare and an image of death might be upsetting for supporters who are feeling vulnerable - a case of too near the bone.

The exhibition poster has a lovely teapot print by Helen Peyton bringing thoughts of domestic cheeriness and the preview is on Friday 18th May 2012 at 7.30 - 9 pm.  Well worth supporting if you're in the area.