Grues cendrées

This woodcut is about the common crane (Grus grus), made as part of an exchange with other members of the Baren Forum. The topic was ‘movement in nature’.

The birds migrate from northern Europe towards Marocco and Galicie, in Spain, north of Portugal for the winter. Normally the bulk crosses the Pyrenees more towards the west. In certain weather conditions some cranes cross the mountains flying directly over where we live in Cambieure in the Aude near the Mediterranean Sea.

They usually migrate during early November, but this time it was about two weeks earlier than the previous year on a particularly unsettled day, battling winds gusts of between 80 and100km per hour.

I was standing in front of my workshop when I thought I heard the wind crying through the power lines nearby. The wind was strong, but surely not that strong. I was surprised to see a flock of cranes emerging low over the vineyard from behind the cypresses, caught in a whoosh of wind, crying out in distress while being tossed around. A pity that I did not have my camera with me just then.

The group was broken up and blown off course towards Perpignan in the east. It took them a few hours struggling, battling straight into the wind before being able to regroup and head off across the Pyrenees. This time I managed a few photos as they were regrouping over Cambieure.

The print is called “Grues cendrées” as the French call them after their silvery grey plumage.

I used one block of Hoop pine and one block of poplar ply wood, water based ink and pressed them on the etching press. The ink on the negative block depicting the clouds was brushed on “bokashi” style with a bit of ochre mixed in with the black to give the clouds a bit of a dirty colour. The positive block was brushed on as well.

One website in particular has a lot of information about the crane and you can also find a short film on that website http://www.thegreatcraneproject.org.uk/project/return-cranes