Family Portraits in Linocut

I have recently become the repository of our family photos. As both my mum and dad have downsized from their old homes, boxes of treasure have been dusted off and – at least in my case – been seen for the very first time. Some disappeared as soon as they revealed themselves, including a newborn Me in my mum’s arms in the kitchen. She was sporting a very stylish ’50s dress and I looked like – well – a baby. Others have been safely boxed up as the family treasures they are. The very finest just demanded to be cut into Lino!

This is my first portrait. Caz and Ali are pictured on their very first day going to Brownies. Unlike most of the photos in my possession, I have always known this photo. It graced my ‘autobiography’ written in the second year of secondary school and would probably be top of the list of possessions to save from the proverbial house fire…

Caz (left) doesn’t have the most successful uniform. I struggled with the relative greys and the fall of the cloth. The school I was really happy with, and the legs and socks made me laugh as I was cutting the block. Something so childish about them. The faces I left until last which is high risk, as if they don’t work, that is hours of cutting down the drain. I struggled, prevaricated, went back to the original photo, fiddled about digitally to give me more information to work with, and then plunged in. I managed to complete this part because I had told Michele that I would pull the test print before she left the workshop on Friday, and I only had an hour left. A deadline, however self-imposed, is sometimes the only thing that will work. My favourite part of the print though is Ali’s posture (right) which just shows her for the child she was at that age.

Funnily enough, once I had pulled the print, I sent a copy to my friend Carol. She pinged back a photo of her and her sister, at the same age, in the same uniforms – with pretty much the same expressions.

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