Many of you will be familiar with my linen prints ~ my linocut designs printed on unbleached Irish linen. I have been a printmaker for many years, at first taking the traditional fine art approach of making small editions hand printed on paper. In 2000 I decided to try printing my linocuts on fabric, and being Northern Irish, what other material would I choose but linen.
I was already established as a self employed printmaker selling my original prints and greetings cards when I took my linen prints to a trade show for the first time. I started with four trees, Oak, Apple, Hawthorn, Willow. I remember wondering if my customers would like them and they did! Since then I have added many more trees to this series and I also make linocuts of gardens, landscapes and wildlife.
Recently I was asked to do an Olive tree as a special gift for a new grandchild. Up until now I have only done native trees and all my tree designs are actual trees I have seen and know well. For example, my pine tree isn't just any pine tree. It's growing on my neighbour's farm and I see it every day. My apple tree is one which grew in the garden of a house where we lived for many years. So following this theme, where would I find an olive tree? Well luckily I've been to Greece and Crete and was able to find my old photos from those trips. (Remember going to the chemist to leave your film in and calling back a couple of days later to collect your photos?) I'd taken lots of pictures of the olive groves and in particular some of the really old olive trees with twisted bark and sturdy branches. My customer was happy with the result and the new parents were delighted too.
All my tree linen prints have a folklore reference on the reverse. It was interesting to discover that the Olive tree is one of the most beloved trees and is a symbol of peace and friendship. It is also associated with prosperity, health and abundance. A lovely sentiment for a new baby.