“the earth the colour of a hare” Picture Two

I describe the stages of the second picture in my new project.

This picture took me a little longer than usual to make. I had a fruitless beginning on one day, and then on a following day, I completed the bottom frieze. After that, it took a while and a lot of thinking to add further components. I added the right hand component, terram, first, and but it took a couple more days of experiments, before I was satisfied with the third component, at the top of the card.

I began the picture thinking about travelling across the countryside in coaches and stopping at inns. I had recently been reading Parson James Woodforde, who does a lot of this. The horses in the picture have been detached from their carriage, separated, and their order reversed. I hope that they do suggest dashing over the countryside. Nature took over in this picture, and the frieze at the bottom conveys economically a landscape with creatures in it. The fox himself is part of the ground for the horses.

The frieze clearly owes a lot to my familiarity with medieval friezes; although, I did not seek a medieval atmosphere in this montage. The upper components suggest sky and heavenly bodies. Terram is Latin for land, earth, soil, in the accusative. This word is a piece cut out from an illustration of a manuscript which I have had for years. The bronze half disc shaped pieces are two parts of a picture of an old plate. The red, white, and green scrap is a leftover piece from when I cut out the leaves. Sometimes, I fortuitously add a leftover piece like this.

The top component was the hardest to get right, and I made several attempts with many different scraps. One image in this component is that of a hazelnut, another is a small wooden dish, and a loaf of bread sits on the top. Acorns connect the dish and the loaf.

I am at once suggesting the fruits of the land, perhaps even refreshment at inns, and suns, moons, perhaps cloud, and planets. The circular shapes and light work towards this. The texture on the loaf make it look like a landscape in minature.

If you would like to support me, you can find a print of this new montage picture here on my prints page.

“the earth the colour of a hare” Picture One

I discuss in this post the allusions in my picture and show the stages of creating it!

This montage picture is the first for my new project, “the earth the colour of a hare”. In this project, I am taking literary inspiration from seventeenth and eighteenth century writers and diarists, as the starting point for my montages. The inspiration comes out of the world of John Aubrey, Thomas Hearne, Reverend Gilbert White, Parson James Woodforde, and perhaps more.

The phrase which gives the project its title actually comes from the antiquarian, John Aubrey, 1626-1697, in The Natural History of Wiltshire, when he evocatively describes the soil between Gloucester and Chippenham (Folio Society, The Worlds of John Aubrey. Ed. Richard Barber, 1988, p.198).

When I began making my picture, I had no idea, as usual, what would emerge! In fact, I was mulling over Thomas Hearne being locked out of the Bodleian Library, where he had been second Librarian. The end result of the picture proved rather different. I made several attempts over one day, but only produced sketches, which were too literal. However, on the second day, I produced the first element, which is the main one in the centre of the card. The next morning, I made the bottom element, and felt that this finished the picture.

Here, you can see how my table looks. When I say finished, I mean that the picture is in place; however, all the little scraps which make it up are only sitting on top of each other and on the card. So this is a finished but unglued montage! Best not to have draughts or to sigh on the picture heavily…

I had a break for a couple of days, and then it was time to glue, to preserve my montage. I can’t leave it like that forever. I had taken photos of the picture, so I printed them out to help me. I cut up my paper tabs as usual and got my glue pen. You can see the size of them as they lie on A4 paper.

Sometimes, it is possible to glue all the little pieces where they sit, or mainly so. With this montage, I had to take off some of the pieces first, to glue underneath. Sometimes, that just has to be done. If you don’t do this, you can’t get enough glue under the bottom components, and likely, the pieces will all shift and slip anyway.

Glueing takes a few hours, and you have to concentrate hard. It’s looking more like itself below, hope that is right.

Finally, all done. Except the spade has accidentally moved! It comes from a separate source to what it lies on, and will need reconstructed later.

The allusions in the montage picture come out of my reading. This is rather a baroque image with ideas about gentleman scholars in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. You meet coffee, coffee houses, wine and fruit in diary entries, fruit as a common dessert or in the garden. There is a deliberate richness and luxuriance here. But the spade and chart and finger show the antiquarian scholarship. As does the tiny building in the lemon at the bottom, which is the Old Bodleian Library, Oxford!

I had to remove the scraps on the lemon when glueing, and replace them by eye at the end. The jewel on the peach in the main component is a tiny roundel from the Battersea shield.

All in all, this montage makes me think of a bright baroque world of rich landscape, and also of learning. I hope that the picture suggests an atmospheric little world, which is bigger than the sum of its parts.

If you would like a print of this artwork, you can find it on my prints page.