Keep them or lose them?

Everybody suffers from the ‘I can’t bear to throw it away syndrome’, not a medically known condition but everyone knows about it and suffers from it. Farmers are the worst offenders I know of, according to them something obsolete and broken will always ‘come in’ at some point in the dim and distant future and maybe not even in their lifetime and so ‘stuff’ piles up around them. I can’t bear to throw old Lino blocks away, they’re all cunningly filed under the plans chest and in old shoeboxes, an archive of cuts if you like, but now the question is what to do with old woodblocks. The woodblocks are bulkier and take up a lot more space so do I throw them, give them to the grandchildren or burn them in the woodburner? I intend to produce a book on fish illustrated with woodcuts so that will mean at least twenty more blocks like the one above, there is no doubt that this is the question of the decade so maybe I should go and sit under an apple tree in the orchard and think about it. The first thought is that split and used as kindling they’d make great fire lighters but I’m going to muse and deliberate on the subject then there’s no chance of me rushing to a conclusion. After all if you do anything in haste you can regret the action at your leisure. Mind you, space in my little print room is at a premium and there probably isn’t even room for a decision.

7 Comments

  1. Ohh I sympathise! My answer would be ‘no’ to disposing of them, and find space by getting rid of stuff which is either not as precious, or can be accessed or purchased again if need be (so I have gotten rid of a lot of paperbacks, and condensed other stuff which can be reduced effectively) but then it’s also whether hanging on to stuff prevents new ideas?

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    1. That’s the dilemma, I may compromise with a new shelf in the shed! Out of interest I saw, or rather heard to begin with, a swarm of bees yesterday and it was huge easily one hundred yards long and like a cigar. The terriers didn’t like much. All the best, John

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  2. we just got back from another great exhibit at an art museum. Nikolai Astrup at the Clark in Massachusetts. Several of his woodblocks were on display. I would toss the lino and keep the wood. it has magic in it.

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  3. Hum, I believe ALL artists can relate to that, what to do with all that ART? Sooner or later, a studio becomes to small… the question to ask oneself is “should I keep everything or stop making new art?” The answer is easy. For my part, I have thrown away hundreds and hundreds of sketches, prints, paintings to make space, keeping the best. Then I told myself that I now have a lot of space to fill with new ones! When I was at the University, we were encouraged to keep everything, it was a way of showing our creative process which was more important than the finished product. But is it the way to do? I am not sure, I believe every artist knows what is best and what he should keep… unfortunately, most of us cannot do like Picasso, never throw away anything and once the studio is full, by another house!

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    1. Francois, I know exactly what you mean but I am going to thin out the ‘heritage’ collection of Lino blocks. I suppose we all gather to much clutter of one kind and another. I went through the same thing at University and Art School but there comes a time… stay safe, John

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      1. I think you make the good choice, woodblocks have a life of their own even if not yet carved and with the hand of the artist, the stains of the inks … they become really beautiful! By comparison, linoleum blocks don’t have as many “feelings” in them…

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