28 August 2015

Rugby at Northern Print

Last year I got acquainted with Northern Print when my "Mixed Feelings" prints were shown at the International Print Biennale they hosted, so I was delighted when they got in touch to see if I'd be interested in participating in their new collaborative print project called "Scrum Down, Print Forward." As you can probably tell by the name, the project centers around the 2015 Rugby World Cup which is being hosted in multiple venues in the UK. This international print collaboration will attempt to break the Guinness world record for the world’s longest single linocut print, a record currently held by Kansas City artist Laura Isaac and colleagues. Once the lino is cut and pieced together it will be printed on Sunday 11th October in Newcastle upon Tyne by actual rugby players using a scrum machine as a kind of steamroller.

The panels for the 33 meter print (108 feet) were designed by UK illustrator Sara Ogilvie and are now being carved by artists from 11 print studios, representing the 11 UK World Cup host cities. You can see large views of these panels on the Scrum Down, Print Forward Facebook page.

Set within the design are 20 rugby ball shapes of lino, one for each of the competing nations. These will be designed by artists from each nation and I've volunteered to design the ball for the USA. Unfortunately, the deadline is too tight for me to receive the linoleum, cut it, and get it back to Newcastle in time for the event, so Northern Print has offered to do the cutting there based on my sketch. This is a new experience for me, to have studio assistants!

For my rugby ball image I wanted to do something American, but not too American (no statue of liberty or apple pie) and I wanted to make a comment about the American character but refrain from getting too political (which I am wont to do). I wanted the image to be light – maybe to make fun of us, but gently so. And I wanted the image to be strong and graphic and legible from a distance.

So I chose the fabled American Jackalope.

Along with the sketch, I sent this statement:
There’s nothing quite as American as a tall tale, and one of the best known U.S. mythical creatures is the jackalope. The word jackalope is a combination of two words: jackrabbit (a type of hare) and antelope (actually a pronghorn). First seen in the American west, jackalope are athletic, fast and aggressive. Willing to use their antlers to fight, they are sometimes called "The Warrior Rabbit.” Jackalope are difficult to capture, but occasionally you can catch one using whiskey as bait.
Not being much of a sports team follower, I have just this week learned that the U.S. men's national rugby team is nicknamed the Eagles. So may I say, "Go Eagles"!

And may I also note that I see something just a tiny bit Donald Trump in the way those antlers fall down over the rabbit's face. But there I go again…

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