Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wood Woes

Wood Woes, I

Wood Woes, II

Wood Woes, III

   Three new etchings.  Tiny ones that fit in the palm of your hand.  I've been thinking about old tapestries with wild men leering or dancing through lush forests, tapestries that make you feel as if you are in the deepest woods when you look at them.  In 15th century Germany there was a profusion of tapestries and other artworks with this theme.  Those wild men, covered in their leaves or fur or flowers seem to waver between being portrayals of utopias and scenes that threaten violence. 

   The title of these prints, which highlights the depiction of the relationship between people and their surroundings, is also a homophone of "woodwose" which is an old English word for these wild people that stalk the forests.  I am pleased to have found a title that is a bit tricky and ambiguous, where what is read out might not be what is heard and understood.  After I had the prints finished and was searching around, trying to prove that I did not make this word up, I came across a link to "am fear liath mòr" which means "the big grey man" in Scots Gaelic.  It seems that right here in Aberdeenshire, in the Cairngorms, there are legends of a wild man haunting the peak of a local mountain.  A strange and wonderful surprise.

   The wild person as a sort of creature, with possible origins as a deity or perhaps as a species apart from man, is intriguing.  I had a friend a long time ago who, one day, out of the blue, went quiet and then asked me if I believed in Sasquatches.  It is gladdening to think that the woods can be such deep and mysterious places.  And then there are the stories of mystics and saints and recluses that go off for one reason or another and live at the mercy of god or nature.  In fact, this blog's title comes, in a roundabout sort of way, from one such story... from all the nights that 'Mad Sweeney' spent huddled, sheltering in yew trees, half-man, half-crazed and half-holy.


  1. What incredibly intricate work you do!

  2. I love the bees and the beehives, and the nature-man with so much fur they won't sting him. I've never seen etched bees before :D
    And I love the furry people dressed in bricks.
    I don't know why I want to make big prints, when small ones are enchanting.

  3. It's funny you two should mention it, because, as I was working on these three I started calculating what the biggest piece of copper my press could take! :) (The answer is still not too big, but bigger than any plate I've made so far.) Small and intricate is wonderful... but I think that it's natural to always want to do something new, and different too!

  4. These are fantastic! I love the incredible detail and the way the wild people are camouflaged in various ways. The brick clothes are brilliant! I've never heard the word woodwose before. I love the way you work with words as part of your artistic process.

  5. these *are* fantastic! the brick-covered furry people are really something...and i love the title, love.