August ’22 work in progress – Silbury Hill linocuts, wood engravings, new works

Late July into August has seen me continuously inspired by Silbury Hill, making another linocut of the iconic neolithic mound. A break is coming, I promise.

skip to non-Silbury news.

Shop news

Both my Etsy store and the Print Shop now have new variations for The Island of Small Joys A3 linocut. This print can now be purchased on white or off-white 130gsm paper. More news on islands and Invisible Cities below.

My small edition of Silbury Hill from Waden Hill, a 21mm high wood engraving has been completed, with the leading proofs being well received.

Silbury Hill Linocuts

Under way last month were the sketches and initial inking for a larger Silbury Hill linocut from over the River Kennett, and that work nears completion. The working title for this is ‘Silbury from the pennings’, and was inspired by the discovery – courtesy of Paul Whitewick on Twitter- of the Rev. A. C. Smith’s maps of the area. The Pennings is the nearest marked location on the reverend’s combined map sources (from tithe maps and antiquarian records) to the viewpoint of the piece, and happily gives me a unique name for another rendering of this view to accompany my earlier, smaller linocut.

A close up of the Silbury Hill design inked onto the linocut block, A lino cutter tool sits on top.
A detail of the plate of ‘Silbury from the pennings’, with the final foliage, stone post and sky treatments drawn in
Photograph of a drawn sketch, proof print and the printing block
Sketch top left, proof in the middle and inked block lower right- ‘Silbury from the pennings’

Islands

Back in 2021 I produced a linocut called The Island of Small Joys. I’ve not been able to shelve the idea of the island, an enclosed and other place (the hortus conclusus comes to mind) as a microcosm of human intent, interest, interaction and folly.
I am now working on a new island. This will bear some of the same hallmarks, but is taking a more whimsical tone. Provisionally entitled ‘the mug factory’, it’ll play more with scale and the uncanny.

I’ve not yet decided if this will be a print, watercolour or something else, but here’s a detail from one of the development sketches.

charcoal sketch of an imagined industrial landscape featuring smoking bottle kilns, works sheds and sheet metal
Charcoal sketch, with bottle kilns and billowing smoke

Invisible Cities

Many moons ago I received a copy of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, a remarkable series of very short stories about individual cities and all cities, seen through the lens of Marco Polo’s evening conversations with Kublai Khan.

In just a page and half an entire city can unfold before you, and disappear as quickly – leaving you with an unresolved glimpse of somewhere – nowhere – else, and how it might relate to places we know and the real-world societies we think we understand.

Charcoal sketch of an island city with tall towers, reflected in a chaotic sea
charcoal sketch, exploring the Invisible Cities

Naturally this work of minor wonders lends itself to visual representation and many have tried to represent individual cities – From Ersilia, the city that represents it’s every relation with thousands of strings; to Eusapia, a city that mirrors itself in death and is unsure which of the two is alive. Baucis – the city on stilts and Octavia, the city strung across a precipice, hit you with rich visuals before any of their meaning is imparted.

I am starting to hone my own responses to the narratives and insights from Calvino’s cities, and hope to be sharing my approach soon.

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