"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Friday, 26 February 2016

I’m glad it’s Leap Year

The extra day is much needed. This week’s progress has been mixed, a frustrating letterpress session, some quite interesting research for the thesis and some trial seed drawings and prints to be made into small trial books.It is all rather small at the moment.

Playing with shapes and colours and a few concertina book ideas.

arti  seeds-concfoxglove  artc3  c4con2

Below left are the first proofs of the little linos for the seed book. It will be a very slim volume, only 10 pages, but just enough to create a book block or two, printing will be a mixture of hand printed lino, InDesign  printed text and them maybe some letterpress. My biggest triumph is getting everything set up to print a small booklet. Below right are some of the finished pages. Text printed first on my very cheap Inkjet via InDesign then the linos hand printed.

seed-linos linos

The letterpress didn’t work that well as we only use the proofing press for trials. Paper, pressure, inking etc all have such an effect and it’s hard to get good results to start with, but I am getting quicker at setting up the type. Below some big numbers, a small amount of set text and inkjet printing

 letterpress

I am managing to keep my lino printing clean now but not so the letterpress work. Everything seems to get smudged.Its mainly because I am unsure about exactly what I am doing and faff about a bit. Letterpress seems to respond best to firm and decisive actions and deft movements. It will all improve, I am sure ..:)

Friday, 19 February 2016

More Print Trials, More Plant Notes

Another week of research, print trials etc. Sometimes there is not much to show for the hours in finished picture terms but the print trials are very useful. Different papers different ink combinations etc.
These are a few small sections of the trials. I really like these little pieces, there are whole other worlds contained in them.

col3col2col1col7col5col4

And more plant sketches… again not much to look at but a very very useful bit of visual note making.

plant-4

pl1pl3Untitled-7

Colour, shape, history, etc etc Its all very interesting.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Gathering My Materials

This week has been one of research; people, plants, shapes, colours, design possibilities, words and thoughts. I regard “materials” as visual knowledge as well as factual knowledge. The sketches are the only way I can really work out what it is I want to do. Sometimes (often) I would rather go and eat cake than start this stage, but once I do get started it’s not so bad.

In this story of the Hortus I have a fascinating cast of characters and I need to get to know them, so I have one notebook for the plants and one for the people.
The first plant I am looking at is Datura stramonium, the awful Thornapple with its dangerous beauty and powerful narcotic effects. I will be having a much closer look at all of the plants as I continue the research but for now it’s just a double page spread for each one, just to get an overview.

first-sketches

And some seed/pod sketches. I am not so interested in the real thing as in their design possibilities.

.roughs

And then some pages of pencil figure sketches, in order to discover what I want my people to look like.  Slowly, I know, they will take shape. Through the drawing and redrawing my personal set of characters will emerge and I will get to know who they are.

peeps-2

They certainly won’t all be good. :)

Friday, 5 February 2016

For Goodness' Sake Girl…Just Get Started!

The time has come to get going. After a slightly longer than anticipated break  I'm beginning the research, notes, roughs plans, and trials for my MA dissertation and the major project. Time slips by so very quickly and I have just 7 months left.

The Hortus Project
So what am I going to do? For the dissertation I am not sure but the major project has been triggered by a visit last year to the Hortus in Amsterdam, a garden started in 1635 initially as an educational medicinal garden to train apothecaries and doctors and aid them in their efforts to improve the health of 17th Century Amsterdam's growing population.
The 17th century Dutch Republic was in the forefront of trade, exploration, science and art. It was also a busy and exciting time for doctors, surgeons and of course the accompanying herbalists and apothecaries.


















This lovely map is the layout of the Hortus, published by Caspar Commelin  in 1693. from Wiki: Neth 3250.3, Houghton Library, Harvard University


The People
But although my jumping off point is the Hortus, my actual work will be much more general, looking further back, long before the Amsterdam Garden, reflecting the stories of not only the plants but the people involved in the transformation of plants into helpful (sometimes) drugs and potions. I assume without us the medicinal plants would carry on being just plants, incidentally attending to knowing animals. So the people are important and  I am looking at the botanists, the explorers, the herbalists, gardeners, apothecaries and doctors... not forgetting the patients of course.

Here is one of the Botanists....

illustratie

Jan Commelin uncle of Caspar ( above) Botanist, one of the founders of the Hortus and a rich man. Medicinal herbs were good business.


The Plants
The story of medicinal plants is very very complex. For as long as man suffered ailments he looked for remedies wherever he could find them. Trial and error, knowledge passed down by word of mouth from a lucky survivor and eventually written accounts, the earliest, a Sumerian tablet listing herbal remedies which dates back 5000 years and refers to over 250 plants
Thousands of plants were thought to have medicinal uses and few bits of animals, rocks and minerals too. In my limited time I can only look at a few so I decided to ask Hanneke Schreiber, Head of the Garden and the Collection at the Hortus to choose her favourite  medicinal  plants which were part of the original collection. That's my starting point.

Here is one, from the British Library. The ancient and dangerous Henbane.







































An Illustration from the " Tractatus de herbis (Herbal); De Simplici Medicina by Bartholomaei Mini de Senis, Platearius, and Nicolaus of Salerno" . circa 1300


Lots to do, research, paint, print and draw..happy me.