The Making of… ‘The Catch’

A linocut relief print of a brown trout leaping from stylised water towards a may fly. The trout's mouth is open and splashes and drops show dynamic movement, even in a static print

Inspiration

When I was very young we lived near a fishery. Some of my favourite walks took us around the big lake which was bordered by a long rhododendron alley on one side and overhanging beeches and willows on the other.

I loved to feel the air change passing through the tunnel of rhododendrons. The air was stiller in the dense shade and cooler, even in the height of summer. Even the smell of the air changed as the tunnel captured the unique scent of the waterlogged soil into which the rhodies pushed their eager roots. The sound changed, too, from the soft muffle of earth-bound steps to the rubbery metallic tang of wellington boots tramping over duckboards with their carpets of chicken-wire to aid grip.

Leaving the tunnel behind and making towards the head of the lake which was fed by a river, the soil changed; its texture became sandy and very satisfying for writing words in with a finger or a stick. Turning, the whole of the lake was visible all the way down to the road bridge over the waterfall leading to the lower lake.

When there was a breeze, the wind would pick at the top of the water, making hundreds of wavelets that ran away towards the fall, but on a still day the water would be mirror-calm, waiting.

One such calm spring day, from the side of the lake overhung with trees, I first saw the spectacle of Brown Trout leaping from the water to catch the bounty of the Mayfly hatch.

A drawing of a brown trout on a lino tile

Design

Originally, I planned to make this print as a testament to those who fished the lake from the banks and boats, as eager to catch a trout, as the trout were to catch the bounty of flies, who in turn were intent on displaying and breeding. The trout would be under the water and the fly attached to a leader.

But, as so often happens (in fishing as in drawing), as I continued sketching, the trout started to jump for the fly and the design for the print took shape.

Lino tile showing arrows

Process

Many printers use battleship grey linoleum. I learnt using an offcut of a linoleum flooring tile and a gouge donated by a friend.

Since then all my prints are cut from the same flooring tile because I have found that it holds even the finest of details and can withstand hours of being rubbed by hand with a baren to create an edition.

Finished plate ready to print

The same friend who donated the gouge and lino offcut also donated ink and a mostly unused pack of Japanese washi paper to the cause. I’m not sure either of us foresaw that this generous gift would lead to me finding a medium that allows me capture how I feel about a subject with lines and gaps and ink and paper, but there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not glad for lovely friends!

Finished plate ready to print, inking up for the first time is always an exciting moment!

If you would like to buy one of these prints, be quick as there are only 24 in the edition!

Posted in Linocut, The Making of....