The Hours of Healing

The Hours of Healing is a series of prints inspired by the operas of Benjamin Britten, in the year of his centenary, 2013. They were exhibited at the Alison Richard Building, part of Cambridge University , from the beginning of April to the end of June 2014.

 I have known and loved Britten’s music for years and feel that the ideas in his operas continue to be relevant today. We all have dreams to fulfil and nightmares to combat; society continues to be suspicious of difference rather than celebrating diversity; love and hatred continue to be enduring forces; in our caring society the weak continue to be at the mercy of the strong; money continues to speak. These are ideas that strike a chord with me and they are the starting points for this series of prints.

My work is generally not figurative but nor is it strictly abstract. These prints are not illustrations of the operas although they may represent a single moment of the work. Always the mood of the print reflects that of the opera but the action in the print is not to be literally interpreted. Thus, the eponymous hero of Billy Budd can, in one print, be seen as a white sea bird flying free, then, in another his dead body is a twist of gold coins sinking into the weeds.

 

Billy Budd, king of the birds

King of the birdsBilly Budd

This is the first print of the series, completed in March 2013.

Monoprint and linocut with chine colle.

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30cms.

Window mounted

Unique     £250

The print symbolises the freedom and companionship Billy Budd feels as foretopman aboard the Indomitable before Claggart begins to work his evil.

SOLD

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The darkness comprehends – Billy Budd

Monoprint, linocuts and chine colle

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique     £250

This print visualises the struggle between Claggart and Billy, which Claggart inevitably wins. Claggart sees Billy’s goodness and is compelled to destroy him. I used the myth of the Kraken, all sailors’ worst fear, to symbolise Claggart.

SOLD

Billy Budd - Fathoms down fathoms

Fathoms down fathomsBilly Budd

Monoprint, linocuts and chine colle

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image sixe 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique     £250

Before his execution Billy dreams of how his body will sink into the twisting weeds. I have used the spiral of gold coins to represent him. He was, by Claggart’s own admission, “a beauty, a jewel, a pearl of great price” so gold seemed fitting.

SOLD

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The trees are waiting for the axePaul Bunyan

Monoprint and lino cut

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique    £150

Paul Bunyan is the story of the founding of modern America by the legendary lumberjack, Paul Bunyan. The opera refers to pine trees but the early loggers felled the redwood forests so I wanted to use the colours and great height of these magnificent trees, reflecting a moment of stillness before all the action starts.

SOLD

America, but not yet - Paul Bunyan

America, but not yet - Paul Bunyan

Monoprint and dry point

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size,30 x 41 cms

Window mounted

Edition 1 of 2      £250

This print reflects Britten’s exuberant interpretation of the birth of America. I wanted a half formed look, all the elements are there but not necessarily how you would expect.

SOLD    (2 of 2 still available)

Threw them all overboard, set sai; for home

Threw them all overboard, set sail for home - Peter Grimes

Monoprint and chine collé

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique         £250

Peter’s response to the accidental death of his first apprentice is to abandon his catch, which represents his hopes of being accepted in the Borough and marrying Ellen. The Court exonerates him, the Borough folk are more judgemental.

SOLD

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One of those rumours - Peter Grimes

Monoprint and linocut

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique       £150

I wanted to evoke the curtain twitching gossips of the Borough who are so quick to condemn and who are, at least in part, responsible for Peter’s downfall.

SOLD

The clue whose meaning we avoid

The clue whose meaning we avoidPeter Grimes

Monoprint  and chine collé

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique       £250

The death of the second apprentice is a darker affair; Ellen sees that the jumper she has made for him is torn and recognises that Peter’s dreams and ambitions are putting the child at risk.

SOLD

 

 

 Let me in, let me out - Curlew River

Monoprint and collograph

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 41 cms

Window mounted

Unique        £150

The view is obscured, the way is not clear, but the woman is not mad but distraught with grief at the loss of her child. Her contradictory phrases make a kind of sense but at first she is a figure of fun.

SOLD

Let me in, let me out

There the wild birds float

There the wild birds floatCurlew River

Monoprint and chine collé

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique      £175

 The mists in her mind have cleared and she is able to see that the birds are birds and, seeing his spirit, can accept her child’s death. The simplicity of these two prints is inspired by the Japanese No plays, which influenced Britten when he composed Curlew River.

SOLD

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A wild explosionAlbert Herring

Dry point and chine collé

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique       £200

Albert finds himself King of the May as there are no suitably virginal girls, but some rum added to his drink at the May Day feast leads to chaotic results.

So ends our Mystery

And so ends our MysteryBurning Fiery Furnace

Monoprint,  linocut and collograph

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique       £175

The suggestion of a church window seemed appropriate to visualise the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, persecuted for their faith but protected by the angel. Britten said he was inspired by the stained glass in Chartres Cathedral.

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At the cominge of the fluddeNoyes Fludde

Linocut

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Edition 1 of 25      £150

Noyes Fludde is a very well known story made unique by Britten in that its success relies on the performances of a small number of adults and a large number of children singing, playing a huge range of instruments, dancing and acting, the willing participation of the entire audience, not to mention the Voice of God. The music is beautifully scored for these forces. I needed a print that would capture the wonder and, in literal terms, the absurdity of the story and I wanted it to appeal to all ages.

Toward me is bent the bowNoyes Fludde

Monoprint

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique       £150

The rainbow was God’s pledge of peace between Himself and mankind after the flood. Noyes Fludde  uses the words of a medieval mystery play and I wanted a print that would echo the illustrations in a medieval manuscript.

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O Crowned Rose

The Rose must feel the Frost

 

O crownèd Rose - Gloriana                                The Rose must feel the frostGloriana

Drypoint

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Edition 1 of 5 (available separately)      £175 each

The tension in Gloriana seems to me to be between the separate roles of the Queen, the woman desirous of love and the absolute monarch. I needed to show these roles inextricably joined and the image of the playing card, with its accompanying symbols, came to mind.

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The course of true love – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Monoprint and linocut

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique     £150

For the four lovers the forest is a nightmarish place where they are forced by Puck and Oberon’s magic to travel “up and down, up and down” until they find safety and love. The Saffron Walden turf maze at the centre of the design apparently used to be run by young men in order to attract the attentions of young girls, another course of true love?

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Mine own and not mine ownA Midsummer Night’s Dream

Monoprint and linocut

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper,  image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique    £175

Courtiers, mechanicals, fairies and an ass are all represented in this print but obscured by the forest itself.  The magic drops cause chaos and anguish. When all is resolved the lovers find that their relationships are subtly changed.

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I am not worthyThe Prodigal Son

Linocut

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique    £150

Tending the swine is the low point for the prodigal son but it is also his epiphany as, at that point,  he realises what he has lost  and how he must regain the love and respect of the father he deserted.

My pigs reflect the happy ending of the parable rather than the misery he was feeling at the time.

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A dark side to perfection  - Death in Venice

Monoprint and dry point

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique     £175

Aschenbach travels to Venice to find inspiration and free himself from writer’s block. The Venice he finds is at first beautiful and full of sensuous delight but reveals itself ultimately as diseased and, like the strawberries, rotten at the core.

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The rewards of chaosDeath in Venice

Dry point and chine collé

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Unique    £175

The barber’s chair represents Aschenbach’s transition from objective, dispassionate writer to abject and passionate lover. His abandoned ideas and principles lie around like cut hair and the towel is stained with the make up which transforms him into the elderly fop he so scorned on his arrival in Venice.

 

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Drowning the ceremony of innocenceThe Turn of the Screw

Dry point

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Edition of 5      £150

A governess is appointed to care for two children but finds that they have been taken over by the ghosts of the previous governess and her lover Quint. The print reflects her sense of losing control and losing the children, using the symbols of their innocent childhood.

Malo, I would rather beThe Turn of the Screw

Linocuts

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Edition of 10     £150

The title comes from a Latin grammar book Miles is studying, Malo malo malo malo makes the sentence, I would rather be in an apple tree than a wicked boy in adversity. The rather wistful sentence suggests his loneliness and vulnerability. Miles dies having found the strength to name the ghost, Peter Quint.

 

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A Battle WonOwen Wingrave

Lino cut and chine collé. Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 60 cms. IUnique. Window mounted,   £200

At the Military Academy Owen, a brilliant student, develops his pacifist principles. He quotes Wellington who wrote,”nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won”. The poppies, of course, represent the lost lives.

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A valiant family - Owen Wingrave

Monoprint and lino cuts

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 41 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Edition of 2      £200

Owen is accused of cowardice by his family who feel he has betrayed generations of military forebears.  Owen agrees to face the power and malice of these murderous ghosts and dies proving his courage.

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The same perfectionThe Rape of Lucretia

Reduction linocut

Printed on Somerset white velvet paper, image size 30 x 30 cms

Window mounted

Edition of 5       £150 (3 available)

One of the most poignant scenes in the opera is when Lucretia’s Nurse and maid servant praise the beauty of the day and gather flowers, unaware of the attack on her the previous night. The scene leads into Lucretia’s confession to her husband, her sense of shame and desolation, and her suicide despite his loving forgiveness.