Coffee Wizards

Original linocut logo design for a new coffee roastery based in Birmingham.

During the height of the inital 2020 lockdown I was approached by the folk at Under Pressure Espresso, one of the finest coffee shops on the north side of the city, to design a logo for the launch of their new coffee roasters.

The team had liked the look of some of the medieval woodcuts I had been reproducing and wanted a design in a similar style depicting a prototypical wizard with a staff in the shape of a portafilter.

We were able to settle on a finished design really quickly, and Under Pressure were partiuclarly keen on retaining as much of the ‘noise’ – the unintended marks created by the analogue printing process as possible.

The design appears on each bag of the exceptional coffee produced by the roasters, and has also been transferred onto stickers and t-shirts that you can pick up from the storefront in Sutton Coldfield.

All the Produce of the Land

An art object created in collaboration with Joyce Treasure for SWOP SHOP at Tate Liverpool.

All the Produce of the Land is an art object created in collaboration with Joyce Treasure for SWOP SHOP at Tate Liverpool.

All the Produce of the Land interrogates the manufacture of guns and money, how the two are so strongly linked, particularly in Birmingham, and the role Birmingham-made guns played in the trafficking of humans from West Africa to the Caribbean.

The work features Samuel Galton Jnr’s defence of his gun making business before the Quaker Society of Friends – a self-serving excuse which unexpectedly highlighted a much wider complicity in systemic oppression throughout society. Also featured are two characters on our money – Matthew Boulton, Galton’s associate who minted money for over half the world, and Queen Nanny of the Maroons, an Ashanti woman who led a slave revolt against the British and became a Jamaican national hero.

All the Produce of the Land was originally on display at Tate Liverpool from 28th July 2018.

As well as discussing and researching the themes, values and direction of the project with Joyce, my work on this project involved creating linocut stamps of Birmingham-manufactured Farmer & Galton firearms. These were arranged around Joyce’s portrait of Boulton in the shape of the owuo atwedee, or ‘ladder of death’; an Adrinkra symbol which serves as a reminder of mortality and the importance of living a moral life.

Behind Queen Nanny of the Maroons, the adinkrahene symbolises greatness, charisma and signifies the importance of leadership.

It really benefitted my practice and craft to learn from and work alongside an established artist on this project. The next phase of SWOP SHOP involved reappropriating an object exchanged for this work.

Minor Monuments

Linocut illustrations for an anthology of poetry by Huw Evans.

In early 2018, the poet Huw Evans asked me to illustrate a front cover and four title pages for Minor Monuments; an anthology of poetry.

As well as being an excellent poet, Huw had a keen interest in archaeology, particularly relating to the west coast of Wales. I was commissioned to produce a cover inspired by the burial cairns at Carneddau Hengwm, as well as illustations to introduce each chapter – a map of Ardudwy; the severed head of Brân the Blessed, a king and hero of Welsh mythology; a bed of fossilised oysters from France, and a memento mori featuring a candle, some leatherbound books and a skull.

Working with Huw and designer Chris Donald was a real pleasure. This was my first project as an illustrator, and Huw was incredibly generous with his guidance, suggestions and criticism. It has greatly benefitted my practice to be able to work to a brief and hone pieces of work, creating several drafts based on someone else’s vision.

Though Huw’s poetry greatly flatters my prints, they share a similar spirit – ancient and earthy, mythical and visceral.

Minor Monuments is available now from all reputable booksellers, including Foyles, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble.