Alioth – A new limited edition print

December 2, 2020
linocut print depicting a dark blue background shaped like a window or door with wispy transparent clouds floating across it

This past October, I was selected to participate in an international print exchange organized by @im_printed. My group of 20 artists was assigned the theme of “Depth” and we were given just about a month to produce a brand new limited edition print and mail these to the UK. I am eagerly awaiting my return package with everyone else’s interpretation of this theme. In the meantime, I am thrilled to share my submission.

I actually struggled with this theme quite a bit because my mind automatically went to the idea of water (which I thought was too expected) or the underground (which I rejected for this project because I had a really intricate concept in mind and I work mainly with simple graphic shapes). I did, actually, sketch out and carve a take on the concept of water (which I loved!) but in the end, with the timeline I had for this project and the level of precision in aligning the pieces that would have been required (not to mention the time I needed to dry each of the four layers of ink in between printing), I simply didn’t have the time to execute it well. So I parked it for another time. My second idea, however, worked out brilliantly, and was just abstract enough to fit with my personal style.

I am thrilled to introduce you to Alioth, a limited edition of 24 prints named after the brightest star in the Big Dipper asterism. It represents both the depth of the night sky and the depth of meaning we have imbued our solar system with. People have been using the night sky both as a navigational tool and a story book for millennia. The asterisms of Big Dipper and Little Dipper (which is what I chose to depict) are two of the most popular ones and are known by many names across the world. Big Dipper is often the first “constellation” (it’s actually an asterism) many people learn to identify in the night sky and it has quite a few names. Celestial Bear, The Seven Great Sages, Northern Dipper, the Government, The Ladle, Seven Gods, the Lough, Butcher’s Cleaver, Charles’ Wain, Great Wagon, Drinking Gourd – these all hold meaning and stories.

An added layer of interest for me comes from two bits of information:

  1. While star positions change, this particular grouping of stars will look much the same in another 25,000 years (pretty cool!); and
  2. Alioth comes from the Arabic alyat, meaning “fat tail of a sheep”. As a fibre artist as well as a printmaker, I found this serendipity absolutely irresistible.

I hope you enjoy the print!

Abstract linocut print depicting a dark blue background shaped like a window or door with the Big Dipper and Little Dipper constellation and wispy transparent clouds floating across it.