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 on 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.The original prints cost £50 including p&p to the UK (there will be a surcharge for overseas shipping). Please contact me if you would like one.
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 . . .
The cards are available from Magic Cochin's Emporium (Free P&P to UK)