I went back to the image that had inspired me the most.
I decided to redo the crucifixion on red paper, using tracing paper for the figure, which I would leave in place. This would create a three-colour picture. I used grey ink. The effect is again pleasing to me.
And this time it put me in mind of red tops and the Gilbert and George satirical pictures featuring them.
I tried out several sketches, thinking that I could translate the rune into English as a news headline, “I was with blood bedewed!” which would be suitably eye-catching, but also strangely archaic. Of course I would have to find ways of including contrasting marks, to fulfil the brief. I envisage the words, as per Gilbert and George, in red and black capital letters, with a scratched image behind.
On second thoughts, I think that could just end up looking like one of those shouty posters put outside churches that are lacking congregations. Don’t want that. Need to be more subtle, more designer, less risk of being perceived as preachy, as I’m certainly not into any kind of religious message after all.
Could I manage to use a polystyrene box somehow? They have the virtue of being easy to carve!
Went for a walk. Thought of different alternatives, such as comic book effects, with “I was with blood bedewed” coming out of a speech bubble. Too obvious. I think I might just leave that text out. It’s too shouty. Or maybe if it was translated into old English…? it would seem more foreign and preserve some mystery. And look pretentious too though.
Passed by some kiwi vines, which they stretch like grapevines, using apparatus that make them look kind of crucified. There’s a proper name for it. Can’t recall what it is. It’s like the apples, the way they’re stretched out flat too. I wonder if I can incorporate that, as a solid black shape, printed over a ghostly figure scratched out of red ink.
Tried lots of sketches, then slept on it, and, as is often the case, came up with a couple of images when half-sleeping…
1. A ghostly tree/ crucification made by scratching with sandpaper through a mask… Overprinted with shape of a vine/ tree/ trained apple (still can’t think of the word for it)- a kind of free spirit, set against the stunted/ cultivated one. An ambiguous relation between the two.
Made several sketches but none that I liked.
2. This photo. (attach later)
It was taken on a hike on the Wilson Trail in Hong Kong, and this is one of many weird sculptures that are sitting in the middle of the woods- no idea who did them or why, but they do seem to be falling into disrepair. It’s the strangest thing coming upon them, especially the day I did, when there was thick mist. They’re gaudy and folksy, and abundant- humorous and creepy at the same time. There are people and animals- snakes, lions, a giant turtle painted in primary colours. The humans are grotesque, with signs of an obsession with women’s breasts. Some of the figures look like real people, such as this one. It’s like a cross between Hitler and Mao, and maybe a pillar box. Whoever it is, he looks mightily surprised to find himself there. Gloriously kitsch, if it’s ok to say that about a maybe-Hitler …. (it is about Mao: he’s already to be found waving his arm on watches and appearing on soft furnishings.)
Came up with a design which I hope takes the original idea into more light-hearted realms. Taking the first words of the text “I was with blood bedewed” – “I was” but putting them into German “Ich war”- well, the number of letters is better balanced, and it makes the link to the old Germanic language of the runes as well. It, of course, relates to Hitler. It’s making a light-hearted comment on being remembered. I put white marks on it, suggesting bird droppings. The eyes should look rather skew-wiff, reinforcing the look of surprise on the face of the original sculpture.
Planned it as a two block print- red and grey/black.
I used lino-cutting tools for the main body and the letters, and used a serrated knife to distress the background, to suggest the undergrowth, but without making it stand out. There would be red shapes shining through the black marks. Nothing too regular or dominating. A patch of red behind the lettering to suggest a plinth or name plate- again distressed using scissors. A patchy look would be appropriate here. I went for a small piece of lino, and like how it looks in a bigger sheet of white.
Here,I think the irregular marks made with scissors and serrated knife work well to create a background. Most of these alternative mark making tools can’t be controlled well, so are not easy to use for anything but straight lines.
But I think I have fulfilled the brief!