This week, I happily received the copy of Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ book, Hansel and Gretel. In it, he has brilliantly reimagined the fairy tale. I ordered it last week from the U.K. and it arrived faster than some packages from other parts of Canada!
Clive Hicks-Jenkins is one of my favourite artists. He shows a wide array of his artwork on his blog and talks about the process that went into making the pieces. His artwork in this book is tremendously engaging with both terrifying and beautiful renditions of the characters and the settings. I’ve been pouring over the book and love the layers of paint, drawing and collage.
On the artist’s blog are many posts about the complex process he went through in making the book. The link above is to just one of those posts and also talks about the Hansel and Gretel toy theatre kit he designed. Below are the front and back covers of the book.
I’ve completed an accordion booklet with my writing about Milne’s Black Waterfall painting. You can see the initial idea in Poem for an Old Woodcut. There’s other related posts following that one. I decided to print my writing on thin Japanese paper and adhere it to the booklet. Here’s some photos of it from different angles. I like seeing different parts of the print showing through the paper in the light.
As I continue turning some of my early prints into booklets, I’m playing around with words I might include with the prints. This last print I’ve been working with (the one that’s also in my previous post) has a lot of black ink in it. And that got me thinking about some writing I did a few years ago. In 2014 I took a poetry writing workshop at the Art Gallery of Ontario. After our meetings, I’d often wander around the Gallery, looking at various art works. This prose and poem came out of one of those meanderings. I’m contemplating the design of the booklet and will show it to you when I’ve completed it.
Here’s another photo of the woodcut I plan to use that I’ve cut down the middle.
And here’s the prose and poem:
On a day when the tomb-like qualities of the gallery seep into me too much, I enter the rooms of David Milne’s paintings looking for peace. I find some here, away from the more flashy works of Lauren Harris and Frank Carmichael. Milne’s are quieter, less assuming, but they give back to me, emitting life.
I stand looking at one that I like. It’s called Black Waterfall, a scene in the woods by a small falls. The water is, indeed, black, the colours subdued. After many minutes, I am surprised to see what I hadn’t noticed: Milne, himself, at his easel in the upper left of the painting. He’s the same colours as the trees, rocks and earth. He has disappeared into the scene or become one with it. I like the humility, the humour and the wisdom of his image, considering where the alienation from nature has taken humanity.
This is a painting I can carry with me, softening the dense traffic of the city, helping me inhale forested air where rivers flow, while the ghost of the artist amidst the trees silently witnesses my passing presence.
By the black waterfall
the painter has disappeared
into the trees, rocks and soil
where, being invisible,
he can more closely observe passersby
and the woods and water he’s depicting
camouflaged at his easel like a deer
but not bolting
steady of hand and sight
neither a conqueror
nor a slave
embodying a gentle way
to save a life.
©Lily S. May–May 2014
The most recent origami booklet I’ve made is from a woodcut I carved and printed in 1973. It’s called Forth Form Variation and is from a series I did playing around with several shapes. I used two pine boards that I lined up to make the whole image. I have loved trees since childhood and I enjoyed making an image that felt powerful to me.
When I measured the actual print size, I saw that if I cut the print in four, I could wind up with different sized square booklets. After I made the first cut, I flipped the parts of the original around and placed them next to each other to create different designs. I’ve got a photo of one of these arrangements below. This is a process I’ve always enjoyed. I used a variation of it in some of my prints. I’d print the original block in different colours and overlap the colours in two stages, orienting them in opposite directions. I loved the surprising designs that emerged.
Here’s also photos of the first of the four booklets. I kept it quite simple, only adding a bit of colour with Pitt markers.
I continue turning some of my old prints into origami booklets. And, as so often happens, I’ve been changing the work in ways I didn’t first set out to do. I tried a few booklets with simple collages of some poetry I’ve written. Then, this morphed into bits of writing about the weather or a dream I’ve had. I’ve added colour to the prints with Pitt markers and am now enjoying a freer process than my first attempts.
Here’s another print (A Mask of the Goddess, 2 from 1974) in a pile of linocuts. Then there’s some photos of the most recent booklet I’ve made from folding and cutting the entire print.
The great poet, Mahmoud Darwish, was born on March 13 in Palestine. Different sources have dated his birth to both 1941 and ’42. He died in August 2008. At any rate, today I am celebrating his birth. His words have added more beauty to my life than I can adequately describe.
From the book The Butterfly’s Burden, which holds English translations by Fady Joudah and the poems in their original Arabic, are these lines that I love:Tell me how you lived your dream in some place, and I’ll tell you who you are –Mahmoud Darwish, ‘Now When You Awaken, Remember’
A few years ago, I came upon This Body is to Ask in a used book store and bought it. It is terrifically inspiring, leading me to recently reread it. The book was compiled by Marsha Connell and Maureen Hurley, who were Artists in Residence in schools in Sonoma County, California. This book, from 1993, contains the poems and visual arts of the students they worked with. The students ranged from kindergarten to, I believe, 8th grade. Their work is astonishing in its beauty and depth of thought and feeling.
The poems appear in English with some Spanish and Russian translations. The work that the artists in residence did with the children became known and valued in Russia which lead to the addition of Russian translations.
The book also contains articles by teachers and the artists in residence about the life-giving aspect of bringing arts into children’s lives. Anyone who wonders what the young are capable of or whether the arts are of value in school should get this book, which is still available online.
I searched for mentions of the book online and found a blog by the poet Maureen Hurley. Her blog is licensed under The Creative Commons, so I’m able to include here a poem by a second grader from which the book title was taken.
This Body is to Ask:
This body is to ask
this question of the mind:
Is the sun to shine on the day of my death?
Is the hole in the universe to stay as big?
Tell me, tell me, where is the answer?
Where is the answer to lie in today’s hands?
This is the breath, to breathe this air.
—Trevor Yeats, 2nd Grade, Higham Family School, Santa Rosa
Maureen later writes:
“At the end of his poem, I told Trevor that there was a famous Irish poet, William Butler Yeats—who was his namesake. And that Trevor’s poem reminded me of Yeats’ poems. That’s when Trevor told me that he was the great-grand-nephew of W.B. Yeats! I was flabbergasted. For a moment the ancestors breathed through Trevor and I was lucky enough to catch it combusting on paper.”