The Making of Mark Hearld’s Bird Tree
When Mark Hearld and I began to brainstorm the products he would design for Sessions & Co. we first drew up a list of objects, books and brands that we loved as children, as well as pivotal artists, and interesting techniques. A quilt was at the top of the list; something that could be a stunning visual centrepiece for babies to engage with from when they are born and to take with them through life – working both as a floor mat, wall hanging or to fold on a sofa as an entrancing backdrop for everyday life.
Whilst Mark was cutting the Bird Tree artwork (a vast lino cut over a metre square and his largest artwork to date), I researched quilts – from the world’s earliest known quilt, to the glorious Autograph Quilt by Adeline Harris Sears. A whole quilting world opened up, and we spent the next year producing samples from different makers across the UK to find the best way to subtly detail this incredible artwork. The linocut complete (Mark’s fingers were exhausted from cutting such an epic artwork!), we soon realised it was too large to be printed through a conventional printing press – they’re simply not made for such large artworks. By a stroke of luck, Mark was invited to participate in the Big Steam Print– an event to promote the art of printmaking, and where artists could bring their artworks to be printed by a 12.5-tonne vintage steamroller which had been turned into a massive printing press. This was the perfect solution; and so Bird Tree was printed, in front of a large audience in Brighton. It was the most amazing spectacle.
We anticipate that many of the ideas from our first brainstorm will turn into future products with similarly exciting processes and stories. It’s a gem of a list, pinned up in my studio – and a constant reminder of where we might go…