One of the many things in the festival that I am really excited about is seeing a new linocut print being launched at the week-end by the wonderful Sarah Kirby, artist and printmaker. Some of you may recall that last year, Sarah mounted a small exhibition at College Court of some of the prints she had made of the city’s industrial buildings.
Two members of the Queens Road Allotments Society have since commissioned her to make a print of the allotments. These have given so much pleasure, as well as flowers, fruit and vegetables, to so many local people. This print, as well as a few others with a similarly horticultural theme, will be on show at the allotments on the afternoon of Sunday 21st.
Sarah has already made prints of garden-related subjects – greenhouses, birds and so on. This print depicts the allotments both as a whole community resource but also as a series of smaller enterprises of the various allotmenteers. The challenge for Sarah has been to make those stories and people visual since each plot represents a different story. Sarah hopes that people will be able to locate their sites on the picture within what she describes as “the slightly mappy overview” that she has created. She says it is important to represent in the print how different parts relate to each other, not just the plots but what stands within the plots – the sheds, bins, butts, benches and wheelbarrows. Sarah insists that everything she has drawn is special because it represents something that somebody has done or used.
Sarah is grateful that she has been given permission to do this work, for example to draw sheds which are all different even though they all serve a similar function. I reckon that lots of allotmenteers – and others – are also going to be grateful that Sarah has done this work because, having had a sneak preview, I can testify to it being a lovely print, animated by colour and detail, to give a full picture of what for some people is a mega secret garden in the heart of the city; and for those who spend their time there a wonderful release and tranquil contrast from the day-to-day rush and routines of urban living.
So this project may have led Sarah up a very different path but it is one that she is very happy to be on, wondering where it may lead next.