Hand-carving Sherlockian Tales: A Printmaker’s Journey at Portsmouth Museum
Update: Workshop spaces is fully booked!
I am very happy today, Wednesday 23rd November, because Portsmouth Museum has confirmed that both the 11am and 2pm sessions are fully booked. This is a personal achievement for me! Thank you to everyone who booked the workshops with me.
Far be it for me to say I’m special, here in Portsmouth and Southsea, I have been incredibly lucky to have been immersed in the rich history that inspires each piece of my hand-carved lino blocks. My printmaking journey this season has been deeply entwined by the literary legacies of two remarkable authors, both linked to the Portmouth area: Neil Gaiman and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These authors, known for their captivating narratives, have become the muse for my artistic expressions.
Before delving into the world of Sherlock Holmes, it is worth noting that last year I was deeply engaged with the legacy of Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’. Gaiman, born in Portchester, a mere stone’s throw away from Portsmouth and Southsea, inspired me to hand-carve two A4 lino blocks featuring the enigmatic characters from his ‘The Dreaming’ universe: “Endlessly Entangled Dream and Desire“, and “Consolation”, featuring Death of the Endless and her brother, Dream of The Endless, aso known as Lord Morpheus, or Oneiros. Just last month, at the ‘Make Their Ghoul week-long Exhibition in Yellow Edge Gallery, Gisport, I debuted another creation from the same series: “Dentate Oneiros – The Corinthian”, showcasing another fascinating facet of Gaiman’s world.
A Unique Opportunity at Portsmouth Museum
Now, transitioning from Gaiman’s ethereal realms to Conan Doyle’s intellectually stimulating universe, I am thrilled to share that Portsmouth Museum, current home of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, has invited me to run a bespoke workshop inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic Sherlock Holmes stories. As a printmaker with a passion for narrativ-driven art, this opportunity is not just an exciting challenge but also a delightful way to merge literature and visual storytelling.
Delving into Conan Doyle’s World
To prepare, I researched (of course I would, speedy scanning fight or flight mercurial brain needs research sessions) into the Central Library and online archives to immerse myself in Conan Doyle’s world. The aim was not only to understand his characters but also to capture the essence of his storytelling in my lino and blockprint designs.
Unearthing Conan Doyle’s Legacy
Arthur Conan Doyle, born in Edinburgh, chose a medical profession before moving to Portsmouth. Here, amidst his medical practice on Elm Grove, he nurtured his love for writing. It was in Portsmouth that he initially penned the early Sherlock Holmes stories, ‘A Study in Scarlet’ and ‘The Sign of Four’. Interestingly, his time in Portsmouth also marked the strengthening of his interest in spiritualism. It was also here he changed his medical career to focus entirely to full time writing. Richard Lancelyn Green’s bequest of his Sherlock collection to Portsmouth’s Library and his mysterious death add another layer to this narrative, weaving the past and present together.
Designing Sherlockian Themes for Printmaking
First things first, in case you don’t know who Sherlock Holmes is, he is the brainchild of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, probably one of literature’s most iconic detectives. A master of deductive reasoning and astute observation, and as the world’s only Consulting Detective, Holmes captivated readers with his extraordinary intellect and meticulous approach to solving mysteries. Residing at 221B Baker Street in London, he operated alongside his loyal friend and chronicler, Dr. John Watson. Holmes, known for his deerstalker hat and pipe, became synonymous with the detective genre, solving complex cases with his unique blend of scientific knowledge, sharp wit, and a keen eye for detail. His legacy endures, continuing to influence detective fiction and captivating new generations of readers and audiences worldwide.
The idea for a workshop is to translate the essence of Conan Doyle’s characters and stories into the blockprints I will be carving by hand as bespoke pieces for the workshops. Here are some of the concepts I’ve been working on:
Sherlock Holmes: The protagonist, his sharp intellect and observational skills are a printmaker’s delight.
Dr. Watson: The indispensable sidekick, his presence is as crucial as Sherlock’s in the story weaving.
Inspector Lestrade: Lestrade’s character offer contrast and complexity against Holmes’ own.
Vintage Sherlockian Themes: Inspired by images and portrayal from the likes of Peter Cushing and Jeremy Brett, these vintage concepts blend beautifully with my own ideas and sketches.
Iconic Scenes and Landscapes: Capturing the dynamic duo in various recognisable settings.
Iconography-Based Designs: The Deerstalker Hat, Magnifying glass, pipe and other iconic elements (inclusive handcarved blockprints of known phrases) associated with Holmes and Watson.
Festive Elements: Incorporating festive greetings in the style of Mycroft, Holmes and Watson.
Characters From Portsmouth-Era Stories: Jefferson Hope and Mary Morstan, bringing elements from ‘A Study in Scarlet’ and ‘The Sign of Four’.
As of now, a little over a week before the 26th November, half of the hand-carved blocks are ready, and I am eagerly continuing to craft more blockprints for our bespoke workshops.
Join us on November 26th for a unique experience – print your own festive greetings cards with a Sherlockian twist! Sessions are at 11am and 2pm, each lasting up to 2hours. Spaces are liited, so book now at portsmouthmuseum.co.uk/museumshopsunday and become part of this artistic adventure where storytelling meets printmaking. Book your place by emailing MVS@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or call 023 9283 4779 (10am-4.30pm).
Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to bring a piece of Sherlock Holmes’ world to life!