“God in A Pod” (not my words! ) 20th June 2023 Hever Castle

I think I applied for Sky Landscape Artist of the Year to try and improve on the effort I made in 2016 at the Stowe heat.  To complete a multi colour reduction linocut in just 4 hours.

Arriving at Hever Castle at 7am just as the thunderstorm broke overhead, thunder lightning and torrential rain was not how I was hoping to start the day – but at least I was one of the lucky 8 pod artists who could sit it out on the double decker bus enjoying the provided coffee and breakfast.

No filming could start until the lightning stopped. An hour later we were being transported down to the pods in golf buggies on paths being washed away by the continuing rain. 
Then there is the hanging around and waiting to be called to film walking in with our equipment along puddled paths.

Once in the pod we could start setting up our space. Before I had finished the 4-hour creating time started. It was still raining but we had a good view across the lake which I began to sketch finding it difficult to get the pencil to work on wet paper. But I had to crack on time was ticking….

I had made a time scale for sketching , when I needed to start printing etc. Time and panic all then muddled up in a creative blur.

Each pod has a fixed camera on time lapse watching every move, then additionally most of the day I had a cameraman in front or behind – I had to zone out and pretend no one was there. Then the whole crew came to film at intervals asking questions – none of which I can remember or what I answered – whatever I said, the devil made me do it…

At the beginning Tai Chan Schierenberg came and sat in my pod – it was raining, I was trying to sketch, he kindly pointed out all my tools were getting wet and began to dry them for me. What a kind man. I explained what I was hoping to achieve.

Throughout the blur of the day the other presenters all had a chat but I was left mostly alone to get on with cutting away.

By now it was sunny and warm, I was ready to get the second layer on and had just rolled the colour out. At this critical time the crew needed me to film a piece with my entry linocut at a different location.

Before I knew it the day was over and I was told Stephen Mangan would be coming into my pod to see me add the final colour – no pressure – I hadn’t had time to finish cutting out the last colour but time was gone …

Pressure – the first print was awful…so Stephen Mangan knew it was time to leave before I had a panic – I quickly cut more away and overprinted the next lino – was better but not what I was hoping for – if I had another couple of hours ….

But what did the judges think?……Find out when this heat is aired on 24th January 2024 8pm Sky Landscape Artist of the Year on Sky Arts.

Louise Stebbing