Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Saskatchewan, sharp-tailed grouse and Western red lily
The symbols of Saskatchewan, its provincial bird, the sharp-tailed grouse and its flower, the Western red lily cover the hand-carved map of Saskatchewan in this linocut. The block was inked 'à la poupée' (with different colours, gold, green, brown, orange and magenta, in different areas) and printed by hand on lovely Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. Each print is 23.5 cm by 31.8 cm (9.25" by 12.5"). The print is one of a variable edition of eight.
The Sharp-tailed Grouse, (Tympanuchus phasianellus), known as as the sharptail, fire grouse or fire bird, because they rely on brush fire to clear their habitat. The males are known for their display and courtship behaviour: stamping their feet rapidly, rattling their tail feathers, turning in circles, dancing forward, inflating and deflating their purple neck sacks, and cooing to attact the females. This is how I've illustrated the grouse. They are similiar, but not identical to the Greater and Lesser Prairie Chickens, though you often see it claimed they are one and the same. They also do some impressive fighting over the females, but how could I resist this dance:
The Western red lily is a protected species, which grows in meadows and grasslands. It has six reddish-orange petals with dark purple spots. It is also known as the Wood Lily, Philadelphia Lily, Prairie Lily or Western Red Lily, and is a perennial species of lily native to North America. It even appears on the provincial flag.
I've had the great priviledge of having seen much of this country and having travelled from coast to coast. (I am still hoping to visit the third coast). I visited Saskatchewan when I was young and found the wide open plains, and the wind in the grain, reminded me of the ocean. My grandfather grew up in Saskatchewan, and I grew up with his stories of his barefoot prairie summers and harsh Saskatchewan winters, when he needed to tie a rope between the house and barn, to avoid being lost in a blizzard, even over such a short distance.