Return of the Light
Return of the Light, inspired by the return of the light to Shetland, is the first of a collection of four series of about 20 prints each going together to make a large series of 80 prints in line with Goyas Caprichios. The other three series that are work in progress are:
Entering the Dark, inspired by the dark season of Shetland
The Sacred Hoop is Broken, inspired by the various challenges our environment faces and humanities disconnection from nature
Black Country, inspired by the area Paul grew up in, the most heavily industrialized/polluted part of the world in the 18th century
Together the series will reflect Paul’s interest in the fractures and fault lines of society and culture and the chasms between humanity and nature. The whole series does not yet have a title, and Paul envisages a few years work ahead. He draws every day towards this series and makes the etchings in bursts.
WING SONG (TRIAL PROOF)
In summer dim gloaming these snipe dance,
Their wings sing thanks for the light.
HEALING PLACE (PLATE)
These terns could go any where
But it is here they choose to nest
WATCHING STONE (INKED PLATE)
Somewhere between right and wrong there is a garden - I will meet you there. Rumi
PRINTS IN THE STUDIO
Shetland where I have lived for over 20 years lays on the 60 degrees north latitude in line with Greenland , Siberia and Alaska. The darkness of a northern winter has to be lived through in its entirety to appreciate the intensity that long hours and months of darkness has on all living things not least the human psyche.
When the light returns in spring there is a collective sigh of relief as nature starts to relax and breathe again , which is quickly followed by an intense surge of creative energy as plants grow and birds couple up to reproduce in the short time of plenty they have.
In Shetland there are many more birds than people and in daily life the various species of birds become familiar companions. Birds have always been special to me and at key moments in life such as births, deaths weddings funerals illness and health birds have always been present. In these moments birds become vessels of emotion, carrying messages full of metaphor and meaning on the rich tapestry of life.
The limitations of printmaking techniques force unclear ideas into sharp focus. As acid bites into metal an exciting mark is created that is difficult to erase. I learned to etch at the Royal Academy schools in London Under the tutelage of Norman Ackroyd who is a master of aquatint and lover of wild places. The trio of Rembrandt, Goya and Bruegel are foundational cornerstones to me who all use etching in powerful and different ways. Rembrandt explores the nature of light with his heavily inked and sparsely wiped plates. Goya explores the nature of darkness in his sensitive use aquatint. Bruegel explores the human condition in all its manifestations, always set in a season time or place that reflects deep understanding of nature.
Shetland is full of sacred sites that are redolent with atmosphere, presence, history and meaning these sacred sites maybe remnants of ancient peoples who leave stones or patterns in the land or they may be natural features such as rock formations, burns or lochs. It is in these sacred sites that I like to spend my time usually alone except for the birds. Images and narratives form in my mind that are often bought to me by the birds and it is these that I have translated into etchings.
Birds cross international boundaries, true global travellers that see war and peace, beauty and decay, persecution and awe and feast and famine. If birds could tell us how to live what would they say to us.
Sometimes the storm and chaos of the wider world presses on to me but as I draw I remind myself that here at least when the light returns all is well.