Serpent’s Ascent

Serpent’s Ascent (2020), stamping, graphite, on Lana 180 gms hot pressed paper, 30 x 21.5 x 1.5 cm., 58 pp. One copy only. Graphite drawings interspersed with stamped text. Tan bookcloth cover, with embossed snakeskin, title in gold on black leather spine, graphite page edges. Bound by master bookbinder Fred Pohlmann.

Collections: artist’s collection.

A carpet snake emerges from the garden and ascends to her overwintering nook. The stamped text describes the journey from garden, to verandah, to rafters, while gradually superseding the hand-drawn snake to become itself a representation of the serpents’s body. In the early pages in the garden the serpent moves across the bottom of the pages, then climbs to the mid-space (draping the deck and balustrade), and finally disappears into a small hole (beneath the rafters) at the top of the page. The placement of the text, the colour, and the intensity of the stamped impression compound the meaning of the text and activate the book’s internal space, lending it a three-dimensional form. The serpent rises with awe-inspiring ease, her ascent is counter-gravity, counter-logic, almost mystical, an assault on the rational mind. The narrative is one of bearing witness to a miraculous ascent. I have witnessed the carpet snake making this seasonal journey a number of times and recorded it on video and in words. The snakeskin used on the cover of the book is from a discarded skin that I found hanging on the deck on another occasion.