I have long been fascinated by the facial reconstructions that often appear in the news, showing how a Neanderthal might look, or how closely Tutankhamun resembled his iconic sarcophagus, as well as those ‘cold-case’ revivals where the unidentified severed head that was found in 1903 finally gains a (possible) identity. Technology, craftsmanship, creative licence and a suitcase full of conjecture; my kind of stuff.
I have also visited a number of ossuaries - vaults for the bones of the dead – a very odd idea if ever there was one. You get buried, you become food for worms, then you’re dug up, cleaned off, and your bones are then stacked up on top of everyone else’s. Often anonymously. Probably the most famous ossuary is the Paris Catacombs, where the old quarries beneath the city were used to store the bones from an overfull (and infectious) cemetery, and has been a source of revulsion and fascination since the 18th century.
These images have been lurking around my consciousness (not a savoury place to go after dark!) for a while now, and recently surfaced after watching news reports about racism (the Muamba/Twitter case) and hearing the presenters inane ‘analysis’ following the report, which ended with the obtuse cliché: “Well, we’re all the same under the skin aren’t we?” (cue Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney singing Eboneeee and Ivoreee…)
Ok, ok, time to get back on track with this post. Whatever you think, we are clearly not all the same under the skin. There is character held within our bone structures, and although technically we consist of all the same elements in pretty much the same composition, our individuality goes right down to the bone. Please consider how your reconstruction might look 2,000 years down the road…
Regular vistors to this blog will be aware that I carry a sketchbook and will draw, doodle, write (and waste time – Mrs. Lestaret!) and skulls have been a regular feature of late. It’s time to do something about that.
After many weeks of almost habitual skull drawings, even when I was intending to draw other things, I made a decision to make a block to see where this may lead. I carbon paper traced the sheet on the right onto an old offcut of lino - complete with drawings from a long abandoned project – and set to work:
And then removing the negative space. It got quite late by this time and I was getting a little tired and distracted, so stopped., but awoke the next morning and run a test print of the block as it was, just make sure I was going in the right direction. This is probably the first time I have printed a block before it was finished!
White ink is not the most solid of colours – I use it more often as a mixer – but gives a sort of transluclent effect on darker stock, this time some recycled kraft card that I had cut down to 6 x 12″ and folded to make a greeting card format.
This has been a very encouraging process. I am pleased with these results and have been sketching and thinking about other approaches, different styles and alternate styles and can see this growing into something a little bigger.