There are things in our modern world that have become so ubiquitous that their wonder is easy to over look. Wood and the growth rings they contain are one of those things.
This book by the artist Bryan Nash Gill works to bring our focus back to the inherent beauty and history within a cut piece of wood. I like that the concept is so simple yet layered at the same time. The name Woodcut comes from the printing technique as well as the subject matter since these are wood cuts of cut wood.
As the artist made a series of prints the block would change. The print above shows the same piece of wood as it would expand and contract with the seasons.
I was pleased to learn that the original prints were huge, 4 by 4 feet in some cases. The growth rings in those massive slabs add up to hundreds of years. Those printed rings show a history of that tree including worm holes, damages, etc. Also visible are the marks the artist made while cutting and preparing the wood for printing. I find this layering of history fascinating.
The book itself is nicely done. Nice printing quality and simple layout that lets the works speak for themselves. Each image also has a description by the artist that speaks to the characteristic of that particular piece of wood as well as the printing process. He will decipher the life the tree lived from its growth rings and other elements.
Not all of the prints in the book are cut from a single tree. A number of them are assembled from cut off lumber, branches and burls. The patterns in these prints transform into a variety of natural and man made images. In these images I see area views of farm land, seashells, birds, islands
In the final section the artist talks about how he came to this body of work and gives a more detailed walk through of the printing process. You see the tools and techniques he uses and there are some great photos of the blocks that he prints from.
Bryan Nash Gill is an artist who has worked in a variety of mediums and disciplines. I was sad to learn that he passed away this past year.
This book will serve as inspiration to those fascinated by art, nature and natural science.