I’ve always been drawn to things that are in a state of disrepair or decay, things one might find in a gutter or washed up on a beach––a broken light bulb, a battered plastic toy, a dried piece of kelp. For me, such objects reveal the effects of time and use, and offer insight into how they work and how they were formed or put together.
I’ve been making woodcuts of found objects like these for thirty years and have built up an extensive library of images from which I make prints that I cut up and arrange to create larger and more complex compositions. Like mosaics or jigsaw puzzles these larger works are typically comprised of hundreds of individuals pieces that I fit together to form a picture, which I then adhere to a wood substrate.
For every woodcut I’ve made I have a print pinned to a wall in my studio. I think of this wall as a kind of periodic table, and each woodcut as an element that I can use to create a picture. I may use a woodcut of a seedpod to describe the skin of an octopus or the surface of a tree trunk, a woodcut of a dried-up pear to articulate the ground around an old well or the wings of a butterfly.
Just as everything in our physical environment is composed of the same matter, my large pieces are composed of the same collection of woodcut images. This approach, I hope, communicates the idea that all things by virtue of their makeup are connected, that all things participate in a cycle of composition and decomposition in which the old, the broken down and the disposed of becomes material for the new.