Printed on 350gsm Matt Hahnemuhle Museum Etching paper and produced to high-spec exhibition quality. All signed and numbered.
Kathleen and me get immortalised in sketchbook form by artist Helen Blejerman as we presented Winterland to an audience at Laydeez do Comics last month.
A suspected murder in an Alaskan village; a house that has its history written on its walls; and a wolf with what seemed to be women’s parts. These are some of the things I saw that night.
– o –
Six o’clock had passed when I walked deep into the streets of London. I knew their meeting would happen in Charing Cross Road so I turned into Shaftesbury Avenue. Just before it started to get dark, I identified the building. Red neon letters. Foyles.
I had to understand the modus operandi of this group. I had to go unnoticed; I had to be an observer. I stubbed out the cigarette with my shoe and entered the place.
I walked between the rows of books. I saw Plato, Aristotle, ancient metaphysics scriptures, but also Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan – Where does the event take place? I asked a young…
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Large-scale Winterland print (45″ x 30″)
WolfWoman (when was your first time?) – Artistic Statement
Most of my work is collaborative as a filmmaker and cinematographer. Winterland is my first venture as an illustrator as I wanted to make something 2D for a change. It became a 145 page graphic novel from a story by Alaskan author Kathleen Bryson (Mush, Girl on a Stick). I worked on a computer with a graphics tablet.
‘Wolfwoman’ is on page 72, a point by which time I felt I knew and understood the main character Jocelyn. In her cramped and conventional life as a small town Alaskan housewife she feels frustrated and haunted. She suffers from PTSD after witnessing a murder as a child. Wolfwoman is one of my interpretations of this.
The prose that accompanies this illustration is about menstruating for the first time, how it disrupts the carefree life of a child but is an inevitable part of growing up. This combined, in Jocelyn’s case, with the constant reminder of witnessing blood let unnaturally by force yet having to proceed into adulthood and marriage as if nothing has happened at all.
Many of the Winterland images will remain book illustrations, though I believe ‘Wolfwoman’ works alone as a large-scale print. Making her life-sized makes her more human to me. She also represents isolation, secret thoughts and perceptions, which are recurring themes in my work.
Winterland, by Kathleen Bryson and Jessica Cheeseman, is a graphic novel set deeply in smalltown Alaska, hidden far back in forested childhoods, embedded forever in the coldest season.
Yet even in this Arctic noir winter world, blood and passion work their way to the surface. Local girl loves another hometown girl amidst murder and then middle-age. But our narrator learned love’s price as a child, and so her adult love is always icy, for every season is a winterland. What will melt the snowdrifts? Once-hot haemoglobin spheres now frozen inside packed snow? A woman stretched out naked against the whiteness, vulnerable to a knifethrower’s aim, the near-misses warming her flesh with every stab? A child’s long-delayed compassion upon witnessing cold-blooded murder?
Jessica Cheeseman’s stunning drawings, of surreal vanilla ice-cream snowscapes, glacial children and oddly festering crimes, beautifully illustrate Kathleen Bryson’s elegaic prose in Winterland.
Copyright Kathleen Bryson & Jessica Cheeseman 2011/2012