The hare has captured the imagination of many artists throughout history, in more recent years its popularity as subject and muse has spiraled year on year and it astonishes me how it has sustained such momentum. A recent publication entitled The Artful Hare sets out to celebrate this fascination and highlight the many artists who are compelled to convey the distinct form of this elusive creature. To narrow the field down, The Artful Hare focuses on British printmakers, featuring more than 370 images by 74 artists, all of whom are living and working today.
Somerset Art Works aficionados will recognise the work of three of our members within it’s pages. There are no prizes for guessing that Julia Manning is one – her distinctive work is synonymous with her love of corvids and hares. The other two are Lucy Willis and Judy Willoughby; who also featured in a previous publication by the same team entitled The Printmaker’s Cat.
The book extols the diversity of print techniques, with each artist explaining their working methods alongside their personal relationship with hares – whether they be fleeting glimpses, regular sightings or literally being run into by one!
Hares are incredibly rare in this part of the UK, in fact if you do see one whilst walking on Exmoor particularly, the National Park would appreciate you recording your sighting as they are trying to establish numbers on the moor. You can inform them of your encounter here
So why is the hare enjoying such a renaissance with the contemporary art buying public? Obviously it is part of the current desire to connect with nature. Owls, stags and ravens are also gaining prominence, all indigenous creatures that are surrounded by charms of myth and British folklore, and so it is not just their natural animal nature we are tuning into but an intangible magical, wild, liminal spirit. Or perhaps it is because the generation who are buying these works have seared onto their retinas the distinct, definitely not cute silhouette of the ‘death rabbit’ from Watership Down and spent hours hunting the hares hidden within Kit William’s illustrations for Masquerade?
‘Rare and largely nocturnal,but, when you see them, exciting, beautiful, graceful creatures leaping through cornfields, boxing but at other times still and almost reflective. one feels they have ancient connections that give them their speed, cunning and wisdom.’ Judy Willoughby
The Artful Hare is a beautiful book full of leaping, bounding, boxing and washing hares – a ‘treasure drove‘ to delight any hare lover.
Published on May 27, 2015 // Davina Jelley