Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Woodland and woodcuts

Oliver Rackham's 'Woodland' combines the most recent and respectable research with a pleasantly confiding, conversational style. It's readably and usefully academic and the sort of book you feel compelled to lend out (I've only seen my copy briefly in months). Once absorbed, a walk through the woods will never be the same again, as I'm sure Nige would agree.

Not least of its attractions is the dust jacket cover , which features a woodcut (above) by Robert Gillmor. He's produced a number of covers for the renowned New Naturalist Series, of which 'Woodland' forms a part.

On the left is the cover for 'Gower', another beauty, which really captures the feel of the place on that rare sunny day. You can find some of the other prints for sale (with images) here. I wanted to get one of the 'Woodland' ones but missed the boat - there were only eight of them and I think they went pretty quickly.

6 comments:

Nige said...

Gaw - Woodland is high on my birthday/Christmas list, so I live in hope. Just the thing to see me through the indoor months (along with The Aurelian Legacy). What I can't understand about the New Naturalist books is the way they go out of print and become collectors' items almost as soon as they're published. I suppose it makes them all the more desirable though...

Bunny Smedley said...

What Nige said, really - this is now at the ambitious end of my birthday / Christmas list, not least because a British artist producing really beautiful woodcuts of the natural world really does tick more or less all the boxes!

Why haven't I heard about this book before? At any rate, I'm glad I've heard about it now - thanks!

dearieme said...

It's my loo book of the month.

worm said...

this looks right up my strasse - although I've read so many of these aspirational faux-naif ecobooks lately I'm in danger of becoming smelly and growing a beard

incidentally - word verification today is 'fiction'...

Gaw said...

Nige: For some reason I'd assumed you'd read it - perhaps you just sounded as if you had!

It's ideal for hibernation as it has lots of really useful knowledge for application at springtime. It's particularly useful in understanding how woodland is an integrated ecology. As such it's discouraging on the prospects of making new woodland feel old and established.

BTW re availability, if you go to the New Naturalist site (first link on the post) you can find details of their facsimile and print on demand offers.

Bunny: I believe Oliver Rackham was friendly with Roger Deakin and is still friendly with another wood lover Robert Macfarlane. They all combine science and feeling attractively (sometimes beautifully), without seeming to compromise either.

Dearieme: Enjoy! But I'm a bit surprised you get through a thick book like that in a month.

Worm: Rackham is a proper Cambridge academic and the New Naturalist Series is a serious scientific exercise. So none of this 'faux-naif eco' stuff!

But what is tremendously attractive about the NNS is that they help keep alive a tradition of close, consistent and sympathetic observation in matters biological and zoological. As such it's very accessible - you feel a committed non-academic could make a contribution (and they sometimes do).

dearieme said...

Gaw, it's what a historian would call a Long November.