This image was dreamed up from a rather significant Somerset folk song, ‘The Seeds of Love’. Whilst visiting a friend (clergyman Charles Marson of Hambridge, Somerset), Cecil Sharp overheard the gardener, John England, singing the song as he toiled. Captivated by the lyrics and melody, he noted it down - the date was 22nd August, 1903. The idea for Sharp’s song-hunting quest grew from it.
Printed in Carbon black linseed-based ink on Somerset ‘Antique’ 285gsm paper. Limited to an edition of 50. Numbered and signed in pencil by the artist, Cameron Short. Dimensions - Width: cm Height: cm
The story behind the ‘Songs of Somerset’ prints - This collection of block prints (originally conceived for the linings of our ‘Song Coats’) celebrates the exploits of song-hunter Cecil J Sharp in 1903. Over the course of a few years, Sharp roamed Somerset on his humble bicycle, amassing more than 1,600 songs from 350 singers. His quest took the form of exploration. A diary entry reads:
‘Folk-song takes refuge in the poor cottages and outlying hamlets. It harbours in the heathen kingdoms and the wilder parts. It is a treasure to be sought and found in nooks and corners...’
Sharp understood that these songs wove generations together, and bestowed on folk a sense of identity and belonging. They were among the most intimate possessions of the poor. He wrote:
‘They come out very shyly, late at night, and are heard when the gentry have gone to bed, when the barrack-room has exhausted its Music-Hall menu.’
Sharp’s objective was preservation, and he recorded both lyrics and melodies expertly - his only tools a well-trained ear and a pencil. Many of the songs tell fanciful and peculiar stories - some dark, some light - providing us, the artists, with an abundance of rich imagery to interpret. We conceived and carved around twenty new blocks, the fruit of which you have before you.