“Rock painting was our species’ first artistic adventures, our first celebration of the natural world, maybe our first crucial step into reflective self-consciousness. Tony Hopkins’ extraordinary artistic project, to witness this art from the chalk-hills of England to the shaman caves of South Africa, and then paint the paintings himself, gives a uniquely sympathetic insight into this first flowering of the human imagination.” — Richard Mabey.
For over twenty years, British artist Tony Hopkins has traveled in pursuit of the globe’s most remarkable rock art sites. The result is one of the most intriguing books we’ve seen this year — Pecked and Painted: Rock Art, from Long Meg to Giant Wallaroo, a wonderfully rich volume full of the author’s photographs, field sketches, finished paintings, and extensive journal entries. Hopkins truly went far and wide in his rock art quest: Britain, Ireland, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Australia, South Africa, Namibia, Sudan, Egypt, and the American Southwest. No two sites were the same, but as Tony Hopkins describes, something universal shone through:
“Whatever its meaning when the earth was young, rock art speaks to us now of a time when people lived their lives close to nature, in tune with the rhythm of the earth. It is no coincidence that most rock art is associated with what we think of today as wilderness areas, the far reaches of temporal and spiritual existence, wild landscapes where the past is still visible in the present, where what is most special has to do with the way we respond to nature.”
Hopkins’ words perfectly describe why the Land Library has built a 20 year collection of books devoted to prehistoric art. Starting with North America, and volumes such as these:
The Serpent and the Sacred Fire: Fertility Images in Southwest Rock Art by Dennis Slifer, Plains Indian Rock Art by James D. Keyser & Michael A. Klassen , Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region by Sally J. Cole.
But before long, those universal themes mentioned above, led us to seek out volumes such as these:
Rock Art of the Dreamtime by Josephine Flood, The Hunter’s Vision: The Prehistoric Art of Zimbabwe by Peter Garlake, The Archaeology of Rock-Art edited by Christopher Chippindale and Paul Tacon.
along with Jean Clottes’ classic and comprehensive World Rock Art:
Stay tuned for our next post: German film director Werner Herzog and the birth of art in the Cave of Forgotten Dreams!