During 2011 and 2012 I made repeated visits to several of the prehistoric caves in the Dordogne, particularly Rouffignac, Font de Gaume and Les Combarelles. These are close to the famous Lascaux cave, which is no longer open because of its deterioration, but which has been extensively studied to make a very accurate replica, Lascaux II. Most of the decorated caves are sensitive to changes in the atmosphere, so there are very strict limits on the numbers of people allowed in each day and as touching the walls would cause damage, very few can go in together. Our visits have been out of season and we’ve been lucky to be able to return several times, so the guides have recognised us and allowed me to make very small drawings.
I made over 100 drawings, necessarily in the dark, trying to catch some of the experience of sharing these spaces with the prehistoric artists who often seem to have looked at their world much as we do ours. My rushed and often messy little drawings carry particular meaning for me, catching both some of what I saw and some of how it felt to be there. I made some solarplate prints directly from the drawings in May last year and then went on to make 65 monotypes using the drawings and memories from seven of the caves.
I started using some of the monotype methods that I had developed while making the goddess series, but soon found that new approaches and techniques were needed to carry these ideas. I made the monotypes in groups from each cave as these caves have such different characteristics.
I have talked more about the imagery in these monotypes and their development in my blog – there’s a link to this in the menu bar. There is a button on the blog page that enables you to sign up to have email notification each time I add a new post.