Watership Down by Sam Chivers.
Based on the famous literary work of English novelist Richard Adams, Watership Down has been created in collaboration with the Richard Adams Estate, and saw a dual release by the two galleries, here in the UK and across the water in the US.
Sam Chivers has created a wonderfully evocative scene with his artwork. Leaning, as Black Dragon Press say, upon his intimate knowledge of the land surrounding Watership Down, we are invited into the secret fold of a holloway, where a place of light and dark exists. A place of high contrast and stilled movement. A place full of places to hide.
Up and away, we see open fields and the sunlight-deflecting canopy of the trees. A fence with barded-wire delineates the boundary. This a perimeter beyond which a rabbit must take care to tread. Some of the brilliance in the art comes from the demeanours of the rabbits’ themselves, where we see Hazel and Fiver in modes of heightened awareness. Waiting tensely in shadow, the ears of Hazel just kissing the slanting rays of sunlight, ready to move at any second.
Talking of sunlight, the use of light in Sam’s artwork is highly effective, and provides an energetic tension in the work, where the dark of pause is pitched against the light of an off-scene destination. Beautiful strands of sunlight illuminate the deep bank of the holloway, casting both the barreling recess and the ivy-clad foreground in an exquisitely nuanced drape of shade.
When exploring the artwork with one’s eyes, it’s easy to envisage the artist exploring such a landscape on foot. The work feels part imagination and part nature study, a sense of lived experience imbuing the shape and space that surrounds the characters from Adams’ novel.
It’s been a great pleasure to work on a new print by Sam Chivers. It’s the third he’s produced in collaboration with Black Dragon Press, following Oryx & Crake in 2019 and the fantastic Rossum’s Universal Robots in 2016.
Watership Down has twice the colours of Oryx & Crake—a total of 14—and has been printed at the same impressive 24”x36”. Here’s hoping that the years ahead see more collaborations between this artist and gallery.
Visit Black Dragon Press for full release details, and to pick up one of the few remaining copies from this superb edition.
Poster: Watership Down by Sam Chivers
Paper: 300gsm Gmund Bauhaus
Edition: 200 + AP’s
Printed with love at White Duck Editions