This image is conjured from ‘The Two Magicians’, a folk song believed to be unique to Somerset. Song-Hunter Cecil Sharp heard it from just one source - a blacksmith by the rather apt name of William Sparks. A beguiling song, it tells the tale of a girl who refuses to marry a ‘husky, dusky, must-y, fusk-y, coal blacksmith...’ The song takes a surreal turn as the girl resorts to shape-shifting to escape his advances. Little does she know that he, too, has the power to transform himself.
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, Janet Tristram. 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.
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