Black Page 25

Description of work

'Using Quink Permanent Black Ink (130 lines) drawn with dip pen.
Copperplate (68x113mm) relief printed with Super Black Letterpress Ink.
Stencil (50x82mm) printed with Super Black Letterpress Ink.
Elspeth Barker's Raven Black Hair (29 strands), woven.
Carbonized Black Rook Feather Powder, flocked.
Carbonized Bat Powder, flocked -
1. I wanted the fine lines of black ink to interact with the lines of the laid paper and establish the grounding of black as a literary page.
2. I wanted to work with the Black Art of printing - copperplate and letterpress - to make reference to this essential process of book publishing
3. I needed the thick layer of printing ink to achieve a different, contrasting texture of black, one that overruled the black surface so far achieved and which acted as a central sticky trap.
4. I wanted to weave and enmesh Elspeth Barker's raven hair into the central area of my page as she had become woven into my narrative in conceiving this Black Page. It happened thus: on receiveing my Black Page template in Yorkshire, I drove on down to North Norfolk. Arriving at Elspeth's home, I parked beside her Mercedes just as a thunderstorm began. Dark voluminous clouded sky, the heavens opened thick with hail and I heard a pitter-patter-clatter coming into my car. It was hailing onto the very envelope holding my Black Page template. In consternation, I carefully dried it, and later, emerging from my car I spied on the front seat of the Mercedes a copy of Tristram Shandy: Elspeth's car-side reading. I was struck. I knew that she and her raven black hair were to be woven into the making of my Black Page. Elspeth's first husband was a jackdaw who tragically died.
5. As the Black Page evolved in my mind, so corvine feathers and bats became further elements in the blackening narrative of its making. During the dry weather in June rooks had flocked down to the Yarrow to roost. As they slept, bats flew. Upon returning home to Yarrow from Norfolk there were a few dead bats in the Mill where I live. Having flung them out, I realized how they and the rooks could be part of this Black Page. I placed rook feathers and two dead bats into the stove oven overnight and carbonized them. I then pounded them separately with pestle and mortar. Dust to dust I was struck how each, in transformation, had retained its essence, and inter-wove them as a final raised flock on my Black Page.
Alas, poor CORVIC!'