Some books have pictures and some pictures have books,” opined R.B. Kitaj in vocal opposition to formal abstraction. (R.B. Kitaj, Second Diasporist Manifesto (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), n.p.)) The British painter and printmaker Tom Hammick’s outstanding new suite of 17 woodcuts, begun at Peacock Press in Aberdeen and completed in his London studio, may be said to have a film—a montage of the first images of the earth and the moon beamed down from outer space, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune. Cutting filmic scenarios into wood, Hammick creates images that are simultaneously formal abstractions and narrative representations.
Hammick’s Lunar Voyage traverses his personal imagery of islands, speedboats, the forest, his family, as well as moon and stars, rockets and space capsules; a sense of suppressed drama and surveillance is manifest. The artist, solemn and impersonal, is tacitly present in compositions that couple earth and moon. In Lunography, a laser-cut moon is pockmarked with the names of 14 places that Hammick has lived in or dreamed of, but in most of the prints figures and props exist as solutions to formal problems, neither vocal nor engaged.