June 3, 2014

The Vegetable Lambs are Back

        As I continue on my recent kick of mythical creatures, my thoughts turned to the vegetable lamb.  (If you’re not familiar with this one, you can read my previous post about the beast here.)  As usual, part of the challenge is to take something that artists have already depicted in the way that best shows off its unique characteristics, and try to come up with a different view, or a different twist.  After all, if I can’t push the imagination a little farther or make people think about the old myth in a new way, what’s the point?  And in this case, the idea I started thinking about was, what if a modern magical gardener grew vegetable lambs today?
        So I decided to grow my vegetable lambs on one of those wonderful fire escape gardens in a city — some of those gardens are already pretty magical, coaxing nature out of a potentially barren spot.  This sends my imagination off into lots of interesting directions: Do the neighbors even notice the magic in this garden, or do they all keep completely to themselves?  Does the landlord count vegetable lambs as plants or pets?  What other sorts of magical plants might a wizarding gardener grow?  (I gave her a pot of four-leafed clovers.)  The plant on the right, you may notice, is copied from the famous fourteenth century woodcut illustrating The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, as featured in my previous vegetable lamb blog post.  This is my nod to tradition, and shows the lambs as their pods are just beginning to open.  I’ve also shown two more lambs in more developed stages, the leftmost one being fully grown.
        As for the carving, this was a pretty ambitious block.  The hardest thing for me was to make the fire escape railings cut across all the details behind them.  Also, I would have liked slightly more contrast between the black brickwork and the black metal of the fire escape.  Still, on the whole I think the over-all darkness of the piece is a little different and interesting from other things I’ve done.  I wonder what people at shows will make of it - will they notice that the lambs are growing from stems?  Will they have ever heard of vegetable lambs to begin with?  Or will they just think it’s all sort of weird?  I look forward to some interesting conversations!

[Picture: Enchanted Garden, rubber block print by AEGN, 2014.]


Martha Murphy said...

I love the vegetable lambs and your picture. Best of luck with your shows.


Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks! =)