A series of ten linocut print illustrations for Jim Leary's new book, ‘Footmarks: A Journey into our Restless Past’.
In 2019 Jim contacted me to create five linocut prints for each chapter within his new book. As with all the work I do, I wanted to fully get my head into what I thought would capture the essence of each chapter. Reading the manuscript was an absolute delight. It’s beautifully written. I’ve since seen the landscape in a different way when I’m out walking in the countryside.
With publisher, Icon Books onboard, Jim expanded his book. Last summer I was commissioned to create five smaller linocut prints for some of the sub-chapters. See images of the book and how the linocut prints were each made below.
Support your independent bookshops by buying Footmarks by Jim Leary at your local bookshop or online through Bookshop.org.
Part 1 - Close to home
Part 2 - Treading
Part 3 - Trailing
Part 4 - There and back again
Part 5 - Hero’s journey
“Michelle’s beautiful and distinctive artwork is as familiar and comforting to me as Yorkshire Tea, so when I wanted an artist to produce illustrations for my book ‘Footmarks’ there was only one choice. I wasn’t disappointed! Michelle’s gorgeous linocuts effortlessly blend with and enhance the writing. And Michelle is fantastic to work with – she was deeply engaged with the book, reading early drafts and talking it over with me, and over time carefully and thoughtfully produced pitch perfect illustrations.”
Jim Leary, author of Footmarks, a Journey into our Restless Past
How the linocut prints were made
Photo of the book, Footmarks by Jim Leary
About the book
“Archaeologist Jim Leary reanimates the past with this riveting 'archaeology of movement'
All too often we think of the past as static, 'frozen in time', and indeed movement is not always easy to decipher from the archaeological record. With Jim Leary's expert eye we explore the tangible remains, from fossilised footprint tracks to prehistoric wooden trackways, ridgeways, holloways, droveways, green ways, corpse roads, and Roman roads. Isotope studies and archaeogenetics now allow us see the arduous journeys that people made across continents and oceans, proving that migration has been continuous throughout our past, an endless ebb and flow of populations.
This new story of our past shows that history was warm and full of life, and no doubt at times cold, dark and miserable – but it was never motionless. Footmarks will make you look at the landscape around you with fresh eyes.
Dr Jim Leary is an archaeologist at the University of York and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He has directed major excavations across Britain, including Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, the largest Neolithic monument in Europe. A passionate walker, much of his research is centred on the way people moved around in the past. “
About the author
Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next linocut prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour.
Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.