If King Arthur was ever here, he’s been eaten…

Another image for my 2015 calendar: “12 Views of the Tor”. This one I printed last week, and I have two more prints done today to show you in due course.

In my initial gathering of ideas for views of the Tor, I scribbled down “what’s under the Tor?”. If memory serves correctly one legend has it that King Arthur sleeps beneath Glastonbury Tor, and will awaken when needed. Another story says the monks of Glastonbury Abbey found his body in the Abbey grounds late in the 12th Century, but carelessly Henry VIII lost this vital piece of evidence during the reformation, so who’s to know?

King Arthur, though, is getting a little mystical for my taste, so I felt that what would make a much better picture was a pile of bloody great lizards:

Beneath Glastonbury Tor - 1st or 2nd print
Beneath Glastonbury Tor – 1st or 2nd print

I am very much afraid that if King Arthur was there, he has mysteriously vanished now…

I have kept the ‘awakening’ part of the story though: all the lizards are sleeping, but for the one over whose snout the small dog is passing. Its eye may be the single detail I paint in colour.

The whole print is done in drypoint (scratched lines) a part from the sky, which is a bit of tone added with etching. Drypoint is at once a crude and very sensitive technique, and it generally changes over the first few prints. The ink is held not in a nice engraved or etched line but in the sharp burr that is raised by scratching into metal, This burr wears or flattens a lot in the first two or three prints (especially when using aluminium) so that the first prints are like the ones above – heavy black fuzzy lines, but quite a lot of obscured detail, whereas after half a dozen prints you tend to get finer detail  – like the print below. Of course the image is also fainter and after about a dozen prints or fewer I it’s usually gone fainter than I would like and is beginning to look very worn out.

Beneath Glastonbury Tor - 6th or 7th print
Beneath Glastonbury Tor – 6th or 7th print

Personally I don’t want to print dozens and dozens anyway and I am happy for the prints in an edition not to look all the same as long as each one looks good on its own. Whether this is unprofessional or not I don’t care: I hate wasted effort, and if a print doesn’t match the rest but I still think it works I am happy for it to be part of an edition run… and it does underline the hand-printed process. Also, anyone trying for consistency with drypoint on aluminium is probably doomed to a life of despair!

So, that’s enough of technical ramblings… here is one final detail (sorry – it could be sharper, it’s enlarged from the image above and not a proper close-up). Be careful walking loud dogs on Glastonbury Tor: you might wake something…

Beneath the Tor - detail
Beneath the Tor – detail

13 Comments

  1. I’d be interested in seeing your take on King Arthur or some other mystical what not.

    1. LOL yes, I did try actually, even downloaded an audio book of Le Morte D’Arthur for inspiration, but it just didn’t grab me. Another time I should re-visit it… I do after all live in the right part of the world for Arthurian legends and all other sorts of mystical whatnots.

  2. There’s a bell ringing in the back of my mind about a wyrm/serpent sleeping under a hill somewhere but can’t remember the details.

    1. Yeah, I think you are right John… only thing I can think of is the one in Norse Mythology… I think it gnaws the roots of the world tree (which possibly holds up the sky so that would be a bad thing)… in the end it gets so hungry and big it catches up with itself and starts to devour its own tail. And of course there is also Smaug…

      1. That sounds like Ouroboros

        1. you could be right -n the only name I could remember was Yggdrasil, but that turns out to be the tree. Rosie posted this story below, if you didn’t see here comment it may be what you were thinking of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_dragon

  3. I so love your prints. This is a great series.

  4. There’s an ancient Welsh legend of the red and white dragons imprisoned under a mountain that resonated with this…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_dragon

    1. what a brilliant story, Rosie! I have an idea I have heard it before but I had forgotten completely… Love the elaborate trap with the silk and the cauldron full of mead!

      1. It’s great, isn’t it?

  5. Joanna

    I really like this one (love the faces); will it be for sale as a print, or just in the calendar?

    1. Hi Joanna,
      yes I will have a few of the original prints for sale – no digital ones though, just the handmade prints, so maybe only 10 or so of each picture, Have not worked out prices and numbers yet. If you would like to be kept informed I can put you n my actual emailing list – just let me know. – Or ask me again in a month or three…

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