All images taken from http://www.julianmeredith.co.uk
Although for many years I was a committed a painter it's been a long time since I saw works that made me want to pick up my brushes. Much of the art in commercial galleries seems little more than fancy decoration, and frankly I've lost interest in looking. My loft is full of paintings that I can't be bothered to hang.
So how refreshing to be metaphorically hit in the solar plexus by the artist Julian Meredith. Giving a talk about his work he said, Reduced scale images are part of the reason why we now ignore images. And I felt that long forgotten rush of adrenaline (yes that's right) as the photographs of his life-size image of a blue whale hit my nervous system.
The whale prints were so large they were made in sections that bordered on the abstract, and as such had an individual quality of that goes beyond the whole. They were woodcuts, and I liked it that he's used an elm that was felled at Alnwick in Northumberland, near where I used to live. The choice of elm - a tree almost entirely lost in the UK - to make an image of one of rarest and most endangered animals seemed especially apposite. So too, that they were hung at the Natural History Museum as a temporary replacement for the fibreglass model that is one of its iconic exhibits.
That said, everyone at the lecture was taken aback by his descriptions of print making directly from fish and swans - dipping their bodies in ink and pressing directly onto paper. In answer to a questioner he explained that one swan might suffice for eight to twelve images - and no, he didn't kill them himself but used donated specimens.