Rowany Festival Shirt 2014: The Festival Monstre

As with most of the festival shirts done over the years, there’s a story behind the shirt image. This year (2014), the Rowany Festival moved to a new site. There was also the theme of mystical beasts. From this I developed the idea of people travelling through new, uncharted regions to get to their destination, being hampered by a mysterious beast which collects and hoards all the interesting things that happen at Festival. At first, I was going to base the image on an illuminated bestiary, but this slowly emerged to become an image which could fit in with a verse from an imaginary poem based on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, to look like the page of a book. The word ‘kraken’ was not used in the English language until around the 18th century, but Chaucer is credited with the first recorded use of the word ‘monstre’, and thus we have the Festival Monstre.


WM Smaller - Festival Monstre sketch
Above: the sketch used as the basis for the linocut


Given the size and intricacy of the drawing which followed, the decision was made to go with lino instead of wood. Around 11 pages of extant objects, and illuminated and printed images were used as documentation to develop the initial drawing, which was then transferred to lino, and cut using linocutting tools.

WM Smaller - Festival Monstre lino inked
Above: the linocut inked and ready to print


The block was then printed on an Albion relief press. Due to problems with the platen and bed having worn unevenly, this image has not yet been editioned, but will be later in the year.

WM Smaller - Festival Monstre revealed
Above: the image is revealed


The verse which accompanies the shirt was based on the prologue to the Canterbury Tales and was composed by my partner. It reads –

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimage
And specially from every shires ende
Of all Lochac to Rowany they wende
But folke must to an aweful warning harken
Tread soft lest they the beastly monstre waken


WM Smaller - Festival Monstre print and block
Above: the linocut and print. More work was done on the linocut before the final state was achieved (you can see that I forgot the pupils in the monstre’s eyes!)


Medium: Linocut
Materials: Printed on Stonehenge using modern black relief ink
Edition: Yet to be produced as an edition, projected to be 15-20
Press: Victorian ‘Albion’ relief press
Subject: Two merchants flee the Festival Monstre
Purpose: Image for the Rowany Festival t-shirt, 2014


Wm Smaller 2014 Festival shirt Monstre
Above: print and verse printed together on the shirt