These are the initial proofs for a series of woodcuts I’ve recently finished – a series that I’ve titled ‘Thanatos’. Three images that I thought came from the same place. I’ve spent more time than usual labouring over these woodcuts, not because they were difficult or easy or created for a specific outcome but due to the way they came to be and why they came, left and came back in disguise…
Sometime ago, I awoke from a very vivid dream, one that had a linear narrative to it and it left a series of specific images in my mind. I then went on to visualise parts of that dream into the woodcuts you see here. As you might be aware, many hours go into making a woodcut and I spent a considerable number of days working on these three images, watching them appear and take shape. The thing that struck me as I worked away was that while they were inspired by one nights brain activity they actually came about much earlier than that…
Recently I adorned a skateboard with a woodcut of two birds. Birds are a favourite of mine when it comes to subject matter for woodcuts. I also listen to a lot of classical music when I carve, two bands in particular being Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt.Zion. As I carved away at this image which was a distinct part of the aforementioned dream – I came to realise I was already familiar with this scene finding a parallel visual narrative inside the sleeve of a Silver Mt.Zion album. Thankfully I like to think I’ve taken my own slant and made it my own.
The final part of that skateboard I mentioned was a single bird feather. I’ve had a different design project going on for the last few months that I’ve put hundreds of hours into and early on I had wanted to incorporate this symbolic use of feathers but I couldn’t make it work so I ditched the idea and went with something else. However fast forward two months later and here is that design image I was searching for. It also looks like I might still be able to put it into my other project. Maybe it was that thing of walking away from an idea to find it.
This lady was the protagonist in the dream, I still don’t know where she came from, I don’t automatically recognise her. Maybe I will at a later date. Still she is the third part of that dream narrative about death, how you define those around you that you love and how you prioritise who and what you love.
I don’t spend much time thinking about inspiration when it comes to what I carve but I have found this a curious series of events where these images have changed their meanings. It is nice to know that while my conscious brain might not know what it’s doing and why, my unconscious brain seems to know exactly what’s going on and is not afraid to tell me.