Dawnwalker

So I recently did some artwork for an album cover- Human Ruins by Dawnwalker (featuring Dane Cross from Sacred Son, who caused an incredible fuss last with the Black Metal fanboys with his choice of album artwork) . I did the moons and runes, and someone else did the photograph and logo. Photos courtesy of Mark from the band.

Hear a track:

New print- Sheep Skull

So here’s a new illustration I did. It’s actually based on a drawing I did when I was 17 that I found while sorting out some paperwork recently. You can buy monochrome and colour prints for £3-£30 over on the shop.

I’ve also uploaded the artwork to Society 6 to create tshirts, vinyl stickers and other goodies– please note, if you order, the goods are printed and shipped by the printing company rather than me.

British Museum Sketches

Here’s some more old sketchbook pages I scanned, this time from the British Museum. (Unlike the V&A they let you use pens and have plenty of stools to give out). The first one is metal grave goods from the Bronze Age, mostly from Central Europe and Wales. I studied Ancient History as my BA, and Bronze Age ritual landscapes and grave goods are something I’m particularly interested in. Something I’m well aware a lot of people will find horrendously boring. For the best grave goods though, see the Scythians, the nomadic horsepeople of the southern Russian steppes, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Magnificent golden jewellery, carpets, embroidery and intricate tattoos.

These are some carvings of chickens from a mural from Lycia in the southwest of what is now Turkey. Not a famous item at all, so a nice uncrowded room to sit in. The British Museum has so many rooms that it’s almost impossible to visit them all in one day. I have visited them all over the years, and as most tourists cluster in the Egyptian and Athenian rooms, you often have the other galleries all to yourself. To be honest, the British Museum has so many treasures, they could easily send back the disputed items like the Parthenon sculptures and have lots of beautiful items to fill the galleries with (whether the items which no-one is currently clamouring for were themselves legitimately acquired is another matter, up until the 1950s or so, a lot of, or perhaps the majority of anthropologists and archaeologists were essentially robbers and con people- here’s looking at you Schliemann and your dynamiting of the ruins of Troy to get to the gold).

These sculptures are from 520-450BC as I have helpfully written on the drawing. This was the period when Athens was at its peak. People often have this idea that the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans were concurrent, but this is not the case. The Roman empire didn’t even get going (or even have emperors) until the first century AD, and the Egyptian civilisation lasted for several thousand years. Even with periods like the Trojan War and Persian War, people kind of conflate the two together and assume they happened close to each other. In reality though, the Iliad was written around 800BC (whether Homer was a single person or a kind of collective oral narrative tradition is something that is up for debate) harking back to glorious legends of the deeds of the Mycenaean ancestors around 1200BC, and the Persian war was 499-449 (please remember BC dates go backwards). The Greco-Persian wars were also recorded by actual contemporary writers too (whatever your opinion of Herodotus), and the Iliad is essentially an oral tradition written down four hundred years or so later. Troy was a real place on the coast of Turkey, and there is archaeological evidence that there was conflict there at about the right time, but who knows about Achilles, Menelaus and so on.

The era of these carvings was also the period of the Persian war (please do not see the film 300 for any kind of information whatsoever- don’t even talk to me about that film), and Lycia was on the Persian side. The Lycians/Luwians who lived in the area (and had their own language– which is likely to be the same one the Trojans spoke- Troy is not very far away) are one of the less famous civilisations of the era, mainly because they were surrounded by large bossy neighbours like the Athenians, Assyrians and Hittites.

Wooden hands

I got a short notice illustration job this week for images for Christmas greetings from Buildopia, an Italian eco-building company. They specialise in wood and their slogan translates as “the building game”. So here’s some wooden hands presenting wooden baubles, on wrapping paper featuring a house they built.

The illustration is actually three different line drawings done with Posca marker. The house, the hand and the bauble. (I actually drew another hand with the back of the palm up too, but ended up not using it). I happened to actually already have a drawing of a hand holding a sphere in my sketchbook, which was very useful for reference- you can see it here in some sketches I did of a magician entertaining kids. I scan the ink drawings, clean them up in Photoshop, then import to Illustrator and autotrace and turn into livepaint to make sure they have a completely clean line and transparent background, before being returned to Photoshop for colouring and texture.

Each layer is set as a multiply layer on Photoshop, with a texture from some recycled paper I scanned, and extra multiply layers at around 70% opacity for any colours. I then created a repeat pattern of the houses using the offset tool, and laid it down in the background over a green-toned version of the recycled paper texture. Then the items are layered up, with each layer given a drop shadow. The hands are actually copied three times each to give the shadows more depth. So there’s actually about twelve different photoshop layers going on in this illustration.

“I cried for madder music and for stronger wine”

I have Bacchae prints available again. The text says “I caught this young lion myself without a trap”. Based on the scene from Euripides’ Bacchae where Pentheus’ mother tears her own son’s head off with her bare hands while under Dionysus’ spell and parades it round the stage. Available from me as a print here for £6 or £12 depending on size. Ideal festive gift for all, look how red it is.

It’s also available here as a coffee mug. Ideal for drinking the consecrated blood of your enemies from every morning. (Please note- the mug printing people send them out direct- I only supply the artwork)

Topiary

I used to work at Hampton Court. This is a marker drawing of some of the trees in the gardens there. I earnt a pittance, worked every single weekend for six months, and wore a terrible polyester uniform. I got very used to being surrounded by incredible splendour though, and spent quite a lot of happy hours minding the maze, sitting in a shed reading long Russian books, listening to whatever mellow music wouldn’t annoy tourists (lots of Elliot Smith, Fleetwood Mac, Tortoise and Grandaddy), and making up lies about the maze to tourists. (I wrote about being in charge of the maze in issue 22 of my zine). I also used to get a good amount of free glasses of Pimms too from jugs that were left over from the outside bar.

Getting menial jobs like that in museums is fiercely competitive, and I gave up on ever earning more than minimum wage in the field- I’m still planning to write about that. Still I had a nice summer being in charge of a maze.

 

A magician calls

Another old sketchbook page I scanned in. This one is from a couple of years ago. I was teaching on a residential course for teenagers. It was in an old nunnery in the middle of nowhere, so the staff organised a lot of evening activities and film showings to keep them amused. One night a magician came to do a show, and I made these notes.

Ljubljana Biennial

 

Exhibition title "This Is Not A Name"

This summer I had to chance to go to both Documenta in Kassel and the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts. Here’s my photos from one of the Ljubljana Biennial exhibitions that allowed photos. The theme of this Biennial was this poem by Slovenian writer Jure Deleta (and inspiration from Karel Destovnik). There was no overall curator of the festival this time, previous winners of prizes were allowed to each choose an artist to take part. Ljubljana is a small, easy-going city, and so was the art festival, although the artwork and exhibition presentation were high quality. None of the stress of Documenta. I have written a zine about my trips to Slovenia and Croatia this summer, available here, and am in the process of writing one about my time in Germany.

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