Image of 36/40 Sycamore Keys
  • Image of 36/40 Sycamore Keys
  • Image of 36/40 Sycamore Keys

36/40 Sycamore Keys


Number 36 in a series of 40 drawings.

In November 2015 I spent my 40th birthday exploring the wonderful Hackfall woods in North Yorkshire. This special place is a historic landscape garden, which appears wild but has been manipulated by the hand of man for over 400 years. Now managed by The Woodland Trust and The Hackfall Trust, it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Walking in the woodland we came upon the recumbent trunk of a fallen tree that had become home to a whole community of plant species: a garden where fairies might have partied, littering the plant-populated surface of the trunk with their tattered wings.

Those tattered fairy wings were sycamore keys in various states of delicate decay. I collected a few of them, popping them into a little jar to study later. Back in my studio I emptied out my jar and laid out the keys. Counting them I found that I had collected exactly 40. I set out to draw each one, studying the detail of their veined surface and aiming to capture something of their fragility.

The drawings are made in walnut ink on 300gsm acid free watercolour postcards, measuring 100mm x 147mm. The ink was made from walnut husks gathered in the Yorkshire garden of a friend.

A donation will be made to The Woodland Trust from the sale of each drawing in the series.

This artwork is part of the Artist Support Pledge, started by Matthew Burrows in response to Covid-19 crisis, generating income for self-employed artists who have lost free-lance work. Artists post work for sale under £200 and when they reach £1000 worth of sales through the scheme they pledge to spend £200 on another artist's work.