The Lost Words, by Robert Macfarlane and myself is done now. Soon it will be released into the wild. As a picture book it is a collaboration of words, images. Both Robert and myself worked closely with each other and with the tremendous support of the wonderful team at Hamish Hamilton to bring this book to life.
At Compton Verney between October and Christmas there will be a huge exhibition of artwork from the book, an exhibition that gives equal weight to the words, and an exhibition that is also being beautifully crafted, by Antonia, the curator, by John Mitchel, my framer.
And here’s a thing. We have also created two other pieces of work together. The first was a curious project for an exhibition to highlight the mass movement of people, organised by IBBY. You can now see much of the glorious art from this project on a wonderful map site, if you follow this link.
And then there is this:
We were asked by the publisher to produce a piece of work for Waterstones. I suggested that as the goldfinch became the guide in The Lost Words perhaps I should paint them a finch and Robert could write one? And yes, this happened. I sent the painting , with the word Goldfinch written in gold leaf. Then Rob had to write on it. Fair to say he was a bit reluctant, took a bit of persuading. I think perhaps it’s not easy to write on someone’s painting. But it had to be Rob’s words, written in his hand. And how magic it turned out to be.
When we began this project we talked of grimoires and spell books. Having completed the book a few months before, I think in this single piece of art we found the way to work this curious wild magic. Sometimes that is how things happen.
Perhaps this is the start of something new. I love the curling curved of the drawn letters, for that is what handwriting is. Words drawn. I love this charm, this spell. Of all the work I’ve ever done in my life I think this single piece is the piece of work I can, hand on heart say, I am proud of. It is, just, right.