Prints

 

Britten War Requiem Prints

 

These prints are currently on display at The Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham. 

I have endeavoured to capture the spirit of the music and words, as this monumental piece moves along its journey, always bearing in mind the cost to humanity.  Britten himself used Owen’s words to preface his piece:

“My subject is War, and the pity of War,
The Poetry is in the pity …
All a poet can do today is warn .”

The prints measure 33cm x 50cm, and are printed in an edition of 10 on handmade paper from Moulin de Larroque, Couzes, France. Each is individual due to the nature of the paper and the printing process. This is important as the handmade paper represents human skill and individuality – as every soldier was an individual, loved by their friends and family for being themselves.

A major piece of work, and certainly my most difficult to date in terms of subject matter.

 

Britten War Requiem - Requiem aeternam

Britten War Requiem Prints – Requiem aeternam

 

Bells toll, music and voices rise in intensity, you can hear death’s heavy footsteps coming ever closer. And then the angels sing. Flashes of light, explosions, gunfire. The scarred landscape riven with trenches, searchlights bearing down upon men and machines. The countryside turning from green to red with the blood of the dead. “What passing bells for these who die as cattle?”

 

I found the marks included here, and in most of the prints from within Britten’s music. Many are taken from the small sketchbook I filled when listening to a live dress rehearsal in Aachen in 2011, others from the larger sketchbook I used when I finally started my interpretation in mid-2013.

 

The words from the Requiem Mass and those of Wilfrid Owen’s poems also gave rise to gestures, shapes, marks and colours as I worked towards a coherent representation of this monumental piece of music, distilling the journey into a series of eight prints.

 

The treble chorus appear three times within the music. Each time I represent them with a shining veil-like screenprint. Here, their light is obliterated by the dark menacing green of encroaching danger.

 

Britten War Requiem Dies irae l

Britten War Requiem Prints – Dies irae l

 

Fanfares of trumpets, and the insistent choir calls all to “this day of wrath … When the judge shall come”. Shells fall and bombs explode, obliterating men from the earth and their families. Evening comes and “Bugles sang, saddening the evening air … Voices of boys were by the river-side. Sleep mothered them”.

 

Here I have used the birth certificate of my Great-great Uncle, Harry Alfred George Hayter, who served as a Private in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, to represent all of those who have died in wartime. The Mother and Son are entwined, yet will be blown apart by the blast or fall under the shells and shrapnel. Using the imagery of the river, the lamentation upon the judgement of the world flows over and around them  

I was thrilled when Dies irae l won the John Purcell Paper Prize at the RE’s National Open Print Competition in London, 2015.

 

Britten War Requiem Dies irae ll

Britten War Requiem Prints – Dies irae ll

 

The height of the battle and bullets are flying through the air. Flashes of light from explosions capture figures, holding them still for an instant as the great guns seek their prey. “Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm, Great gun towering toward Heaven, about to curse.”

 

Britten War Requiem Dies irae lll

Britten War Requiem Prints – Dies irae lll

 

The darkest part of the War Requiem, as the choir announces that that “this day of wrath Shall consume the world in ashes”. Light and hope are extinguished with death. And then the darkness is pierced with a beautiful lament for mercy. “Move him into the sun … If anything might rouse him now The kind old sun will know.”

 

Britten War Requiem Offertorium

Britten War Requiem Prints – Offertorium

 

The angels sing their request: “deliver the souls of the departed from the pains of hell, and the bottomless pit”. The choir joins in asking Michael to “lead them into the holy light as Thous didst promise Abraham”. Wilfrid Owen’s poem takes the story of Abraham and Isaac, changing the ending so Abraham doesn’t offer the ram: “But the old man would not so, but slew his son, – And half the seed of Europe, one by one.”

 

The light of the angels is visible in this print, beneath the figure, the rosehips (representing the “seed of Europe”), and the duet between the Tenor and Baritone.

 

Britten War Requiem - Sanctus

Britten War Requiem Prints – Sanctus

 

Amidst dissonant bells the Soprano sings, flanked by a towering mass of humanity, as they repeat “Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord”. The colours are deliberately sharp and sea-like, as “the Earth, she saith: “My fiery heart shrinks, aching. It is death. Mine ancient scars shall not be glorified, Nor my titanic tears, the sea, be dried.”

 

Within the print is a photograph of Panel 6 from the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing, as this includes the name of my Great-great Uncle, Harry Alfred George Hayter, a Private in The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, who died on 11 April 1918 aged 19.

 

Ruth Dent Britten War Requiem Prints - Agnus Dei 2Mb

Britten War Requiem Prints – Agnus Dei

 

To capture the simplicity and melancholy of this section I have used an image from Prowse Point. Here, the cross is flanked by two weeping willows and can be seen from a distance.

 

“But they who love the greater love Lay down their life; they do not hate.”

 

Ripples and fallen vegetation disrupt the precise shape of the cross, as it is reflected in a small pond.

 

Ruth Dent Britten War Requiem Prints - Libera Me 2Mb

Britten War Requiem Prints – Libera Me

 

The end of the journey, through the tunnel and into “the perpetual light” and peace. There is a meeting, “I am the enemy you killed, my friend” and reconciliation “Let us sleep now …” The angels’ shining veil appears twice – as the first layer of the print, and again over the two figures who have completed their journey and can now “rest in peace”.

 

If you wish to purchase any of my prints or paintings, please contact me ruth@ruthdent.com

 

Shifting Sand

A series of 6 prints created whilst experimenting with imagery found in the first of Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Four Songs’, Opus 2. Entitled ‘Ewartung’ (Anticipation) this is one of four poems by Richard Dehmel, which Schoenberg set to music and put together within Opus 2. The song is sung in German.

Shifting Sand l

Shifting Sand l

Shifting Sand ll

Shifting Sand ll

I had been invited to draw during the performance at Finchcocks. Afterwards I spoke with singer Michèle Restieux about how it feels to sing the song. We also discussed the meaning of the poem in its original German as well as its translation into English.

 

Shifting Sand lll

Shifting Sand lll

Shifting Sand lV

Shifting Sand lV

Opals are a key element and I wanted to explore the movement and light found in opals.

 

Screenprinting using highly textured handmade paper I worked with an open screen and small squeegees to enable me to explore different methods of mark making to create a sense of movement.

 

Shifting Sand V

Shifting Sand V

Shifting Sand Vl

Shifting Sand Vl

The series is called ‘Shifting Sand’ as opals are a simple combination of silica and water, the colour seen in opals being created by the interference of the passage of light through the stone by the presence of small spheres of silica gel.

 

Each measures 26 x 66 cm and is printed on Moulin de Larroque 250gsm Lys. Framed size: 38 x 80cm

 

Celebrating Evensong

A hand-bound book of screenprints to take the reader on a visual journey through Choral Evensong.  Short text commentary before each image.  Printed in an edition of 24.

 

The book is presented in a box made from handmade paper from Moulin de Larroque.

 

Afternoon Star

Afternoon Star

Entrance

Entrance

Ruth Dent Celebrating Evensong: Opening Responses

Opening Responses

Hymn

Hymn

Psalm

Psalm

First Reading

First Reading

Magnificat

Magnificat

Second Reading

Second Reading

Nunc Dimittis

Nunc Dimittis

Creed

Creed

Ruth Dent Celebrating Evensong: Lesser Litany

Lesser Litany

Ruth Dent Celebrating Evensong: Anthem

Anthem

Prayers

Prayers

Exit

Exit

Organ

Organ

Evening Star

Evening Star

Thanks

Thanks

Mesostic

Mesostic

 

 

 

 

FALO_Transparent