Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

When birds do sing

Have you heard the chorus of birdsong in the morning and evening? Maybe it's because we've all been huddled indoors waiting for the rain to stop, but now the sun is shining the birds seem to be singing their socks off!!!

This is my new linocut 'When birds do sing', it's inspired by our beautiful English songbirds and – as Shakespeare is just everywhere this summer (on the telly, and the radio, at the BM, in Cambridge and most likely also in a garden near you) – by a pastoral ditty from Shakespeare's comedy 'As You Like It'. If you don't know the tune – here's link to a rather jolly 1978 production; the madrigal setting was composed for Shakespeare by Thomas Morley, who was the son of a Norwich brewer (which is nice!) who went on to be choir-master of Norwich Cathedral before he went to London. He lived in the same parish as the popular playwright of the day, Will Shakespeare; I like to think of them chatting in a local tavern 'Hey Tom, will you do a tune for my new song?' ''Twill be a pleasure, Will!'

 I've based the style of the hey ding a ding dings in the typeface in this book . . .

It's one of two very battered and crumbling, leather bound books I bought about 25 years ago for a few pounds in a second-hand book shop in Cambridge. Apart from being old volumes of Shakespeare plays, I knew nothing about them but as soon as I picked them up I knew I had to have them!

I think they must be from the second edition (1714) of Nicholas Rowe's multi-volume edition of Shakespeare's works; the first edition (1709) was the first printed version of the plays to include stage directions and a 'Dramatis Personae' at the beginning of each play. The books were published by Jacob Tonson, a very interesting character and pioneer book publisher.

but back to my print . . .

'When birds do sing' is a limited edition of 50, but I'm doing an 'Edition Varie' which is a printmaking-speak is basically using the same blocks and printing in different colours and on different papers. The image size is 21 x 21cm. The first batch (and we are heading for that big patriotic weekend!) are 10 red and 10 blue prints on lovely crisp Kitakata paper, which coincidentally has a similar feel to the pages of my 300 year old book.

And . . . yes, there are cards too!

There's a little detail of a chirrupy Wren inside . . .

And the detail on the back is different  . . . a Blackbird and Warbler on the blue card

and a Chaffinch on the red one . . .



  1. Good morning from a cloudy, grey New York, Celia.

    I've just placed an order for some of your beautiful cards. They are going to bring me a lovely connection to the countryside.

    Remember the yarn I ordered ages ago after seeing your post? Well, it's been back-ordered until now, but finally is available again. So...I've got two fine deliveries to look forward to.

    Best wishes. xo

  2. Charming! I've been so enjoying hearing a thrush that lives nearby. Now that I can hear again, the pretty song stops my in my tracks. You've captured that joy in your prints.

  3. What a brilliant post - charmed my socks off! Thanks. Print is gorgeous and I'm singing away, can't get the tune out of my head! Did I say how beautiful the print was. Lettering clever.

  4. The dawn chorus has woken me up this last couple of mornings as the window have been open - I love it and hate it at the same time. Your cards are beautiful - inspired.

  5. That is a lovely image Celia, just right for the celebrations.

  6. Lovely! (I've my DVR set to record the festivities for Sunday.) There hasn't been much bird song this spring, around me. Maybe it's been too wet.

  7. I had to stop and read this when I saw it in a book shop window the other day. It has such a joyful sound it brightened my day. Your prints have done the same; a beautiful tribute to the bard.

  8. I remember singing that madrigal at school! Now I can't get that song out of my mind - will be singing it all weekend!

  9. Such a lovely design and love the way the text has been incorporated.

  10. Funnily enough just today I was thinking about how glorious the bird song was this morning.

    Your print is perfect!

  11. I'm sitting here listening to a persistent chaffinch outside singing away and agreeing with every word you've written here about them Celia. Blackbirds have bene singing away till late evening here and it is glorious. I love the whole Shakespeare connection and the affinity with the books. What a wonderful post and a fabulous way to be inspired and print such beautiful things!

  12. These are so pretty! I love that you incorporated Shakespeare.

    Melissa Renee

  13. Your new prints are beautiful Celia. Isn't it wonderful to hear the birds singing, we're lucky to live in the countryside with so many around.

  14. A wonderful post Celia, I'm really enjoying all the Shakespeare connections this year and looking forward to the BBC2 plays that are coming on soon.

    Delightful new linocuts and cards, must pop over to your Emporium and take a look, love your wonderful crumbling book too!

    Blackbirds and a lovely Song Thrush have been serenading us well into the late evening. What a desolate place the world would be without birdsong...


  15. Hello Celia, love your blog and I would love to buy a print - though I can't choose which colour! Please contact me veronicawheatley@mac.com so that I can purchase. Best regards, Vee

  16. Hi Frances - thank you! and enjoy that lovely yarn :-)

    Hi Terry - how joyous that you can now hear birdsong!

    Hi Jennifer - I've been humming the tune too!

    Hi Elaine - maybe we should get up with the birds!

    Hi Toffeeapple and Petoskystone - hope you enjoyed the jubilations!

    Hi Bella - thank you :-)

    Hi Matron - I'm sure you could sing it beautifully!

    Hi Ailec - I love mixing type with pictures... must be all the training I had at college!

    Thank you Annie - birdsong is so lovely and uplifting :-)

    Hi Printed Material - I'm sure you'd love the old editions of Shakespeare.

    Thanks and welcome to PPPs Melissa.

    Hi Anna - yes we are lucky, the countryside around here is lovely.

    Hi Cottage Garden - me too :-) and evening Blackbird song is so beautiful!

    Hi Vee - I've emailed you. Thanks.


  17. I would love one of the prints - I'll e-mail you, so you can deal with it once you're back from Saffron Walden! I may need a card or two as well.

    You've chosen a lovely subject and I really like your interpretation. What else will you do with this block, I wonder - perhaps something inspired by your break by the riverside in the Mystery Location?

    By the way, if your book was printed in 1714, it is approaching its 400th birthday (not 300)! That is pretty good going - I wonder if any of my handmade books stand half a chance of still being around 400 years from now (what an amazing thought!) - or indeed, any of your prints. Now there's something to ponder on a cloudy Thursday morning...

  18. Have just bought this lovely card from The Bluecoat in Liverpool along with some others. It has already been posted to my friend who has just moved into a converted chapel in Yorkshire as a new home card. I know she will love it. Enjoyed your post, I will send her the link after it has arrived!


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