The process of making the woodcuts began with ink drawings made entirely on the spot, each drawn on sheets of hand made paper. Some of these were up to 4 x 5 feet. To draw these larger pieces I had to lay the paper on the ground and use a large Chinese brush – drawing very quickly.
These drawings were then used to make the woodcuts; some of these are quite small. To make a woodcut I carve into a wooden block with sharp tools, it can only be done by hand. Each print is then made by inking the wood and pressing it on to the paper. Because of the nature of the wood the edition number is quite small, 30 to 50, compared to the much larger editions that can be achieved from a more durable metal plate. However, the subtleties that can be achieved with this ancient process are what give each print a unique quality.
Justin Cooke. August 2010
A wild wood, a hidden cove, inaccessible places, the wild is something that surrounds us. It is seen in the twisted branches of a tree, in the flight of migrating geese and deep within a landscape emerging from a dawn mist. This is the subject of a set of twelve woodcuts made by Justin Cooke published November 2010.
The subjects chosen for this series are the result of many years of a study of nature. I began by referring to my sketchbooks which contain a record of all my painting ideas and the places I have visited; Northumberland, the west coast of Scotland, Cornwall, Dartmoor and of course Dorset. Some of these sketches are of places I first drew twenty or so years ago and have revisited many times since. Others were made in places I had not been back to and now felt compelled to rediscover. I found within the pages enticing scribbled notes; reminders of the location of an ancient pine, a place where pale granite boulders lie on a hidden beach or the time of day rooks gathered in the sky.
Since October 2010 Justin Cooke has produced woodcut prints. To date there are 12 editions. The first set, produced in 2010 was titled The Wild, and in this set Justin revisited subjects saved in his sketchbooks.