After visiting Burton Constable near Hull in spring 2015 I put a project together with the curator to fund a residency for me. Following a successful application for Grants for the Arts funding I spent over 30 days, spread over eight months working in and around the barn with the whale skeleton.  I used my drawing of the skeleton and the decorative elements from the Hall itself to produce a series of prints and textile pieces that formed the final exhibition in the spring of 2016.

 Often I find that ideas take years to move from possible projects to making work.   This is very much the case with my Cetology. I remember when I first read Moby Dick being attracted to the format that Ishmael uses in Chapter 32 Cetology to classify whales. He groups them into books of differing sizes; folio, octavo and duodecimo and divides them into chapters.  


 As a wannabe printmaker in 2001 this structure appealed  but I knew that any such response from me would need to be personal and not a simple series of illustrations, so I filed the idea away under “some other time” and moved on. 

 Artists books have always been a small, but important part of my practice.  I love the act of making them in paper and textile when I have content that fits that format.  Recently I have found myself being nudged towards them again and I was reminded of the Cetology chapter.  After over 15 years of making work around Moby Dick, whaling and whales I now feel I have sufficient material to use the framework to hang my own work on.  So I have embarked on the task of making Cetology.   I have seen many of the whale species now, or seen and drawn skeletons of them.  I have seen where they live and in museums and how some were (and to a limited extent are) hunted in the Arctic.  

Layouts for Cetology

Layouts for Cetology

Using drawings from my travel and research and text from various sources I am starting to put the books together.  It’s not a quick project and as with much of my work it will be iterative, each book going through several versions of developing content and layout before they are finished.  In the first instance the completed content is being produced using a mix of black and white digital print with single hand applied colour highlights different for each book, pages sewn simply together and bound in a hard cover.