Two reasons for showing this charcoal drawing. The first is that I’m going through the archive preparing a list of works that I’m hoping to borrow for my retrospective next year, and this drawing is on it. The second reason is that the drawing was a commission for the cover of The Old Stile Press Press in the twentieth century: a biography 1979-1999, and I’m presently preparing a cover… this time a painting… for a second Old Stile Press bibliography that’s to pick up the story from 1999 onwards.
The drawing was a fanciful evocation of Catchmays Court in the Wye Valley, where Nicolas and Frances McDowall live and produce their beautiful books. The image was composed so that when wrapped around the cover the single black sheep would appear on the spine. For the new book Nicolas has requested that Catchmays Court appear again, though this time in a painting because the cover is to be in colour. He’s also asked for the black sheep to make a reappearance, and moreover he suggested that she should gain a friend so that two sheep will decorate the spine of the second volume. This painting is presently nearing completion, but I shan’t show it on the Artlog until the book has been published.
A solitary black sheep in a landscape was a part of my iconography for a while, appearing in an illustration for Catriona Urquhart’s volume of poems The Mare’s Tale, published in 2001 by The Old Stile Press.
After that the idea was developed in further drawings…
… and also became a series of monoprint/collages titled The Journey of the Sheep.
I hadn’t expected to be returning to the ‘black sheep’ series, and indeed probably wouldn’t have done so now but for the unexpected request from the McDowalls. After all, it’s been ten years since the last cover. But I must say I’m rather enjoying the project, and before too long I’ll be able to show you how that black sheep is looking these days.