“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 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 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.