In 2005 Gary Hume started on a new series of prints. At Charles Booth-Clibborn’s suggestion he agreed to explore a print technique he had not previously worked with – linocut. Booth-Clibborn, always keen for artists to experiment with different techniques, thought the medium of linocut particularly appropriate to the linear nature of Gary Hume’s recent painting and drawings in charcoal. The flora and fauna subject matter of his latest work also formed the basis for Here’s flowers. Initially Hume sent life-scale drawings to the workshop of Hugh Stoneman in Cornwall, where lino blocks were cut and a first set of proofs printed. The blocks, together with the prints, were then sent to Hume’s studio. Over a considerable period of time Hume worked on the blocks, drawing directly on them, changing lines, making some deeper, some shallower until he thought they were ready for printing. The first sets of proofs were solely printed in black. During the summer of 2005 Hume went down to Stoneman’s studio and spent over a week working with the printer on the colour proofing of the linocuts. Hume, used to working in the privacy of his own studio, found the experience of working with the printers in their workshop and of constantly being watched quite taxing. He decided to take the final set of colour proofs back to his studio and worked on them again. Hume also added pencil outlines to some of the prints, which were then replicated by the printers on the editioned linocuts as per his instructions. Between two to three lino blocks were used for each print. Here’s flowers was one of the last projects Hugh Stoneman worked on before his untimely death in 2005. The acclamatory title of the series recalls, perhaps, a line of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale,
Here's flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun.
It is as if Hume, by way of the title, is proposing a toast to one of the main strands of his work – flowers. Yet, he has subjugated the flowers to a calculated process of abstraction. Apart from 04 and 05, which show flowers in full, Hume does not ‘present’ flowers. He zooms in on them, deliberately not relying on the easily recognizable but instead relishing the opportunity to explore their shapes. With a few crucial outlines, Hume extracts their essence. By cropping and isolating details of flowers he rejects realism, instead opting for a level of transformation where floral patterns are suggestive of the human silhouette. The soft woven texture of the paper, with its pronounced grain, enhances the seductiveness of the linocuts. The series is presented in a portfolio box designed by the artist using a drawing applied to the cover in screenprint.