Extinction Number Six
This image is in Artists’ Network Alpujarra (ANA), Tierra Frágil group art exhibition at the old town hall in Órgiva. It is 2m x 1m in size and made with black wing pencil and charcoal on paper.
Alexander would never have made this drawing had ANA not called for work around the theme of the world climate crisis. The concept for the drawing was sparked by the warning that Earth is experiencing what has been called the sixth extinction and began with Alexander remembering the children’s song which has these words within the lyrics: The animals went in two by two, hurrah, hurrah… and they all went into the ark. Alexander’s idea was to show the animals not going into the ark to be saved but into the dark and being lost to life on earth.
Exhibitions and influences
While in the concept phase of the drawing in June of this year, Alexander visited the Edvard Munch exhibition at the British Museum in London and discovered the back story to his famous print, The Scream.
I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused feeling exhausted, and leaned on a fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.
Edvard Munch wrote this in 1892.
During this cultural excursion to London, Alexander also went to see an exhibition of the Grosvenor School of Modern Art at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The Grosvenor School Print-makers raised lino-cut printmaking from a children’s medium to one that was taken seriously by the art world. Alexander visited other galleries and museums and saw work by William Blake, Albrecht Dürer and picked up a postcard of Beatrix Potter and the idea began to form that he should use different artist’s images of animals to walk into the dark in his drawing. Because this sixth extinction involves the human race as part of nature and will include the loss of our centuries of culture. Back in his Alpujarra studio, Alexander started collecting images and pasted together a collage:
Hans Holbein’s expulsion from Eden, Henri Rousseau’s Tiger in a Tropical Storm, Dürer’s Rhinoceros, one of Pablo Picasso’s Bulls, Edward McKnight Kauffer of the Grosvenor School and his 1922 image of birds in flight, he used the postcard of Beatrix Potter’s rabbits and of course Edvard Munch’s Scream. Alexander then had the task of scaling this collage up to the drawing size of 2.5m x 1.5m, which will later be reduced to an image 80 cm x 40 cm to use as a basis for a lino print.
Alexander says, “While drawing, I went through considerable emotional discomfort, which was in fact physical, as I immersed myself in the subject of extinction. Not wanting to avoid this process I read again Paul Gilding’s The Great Disruption. In his book, Gilding compellingly lays out his thoughts on the global climate crisis – and with it, how the end of economic growth is no longer avoidable. Gilding mentions Munch’s Scream image as well, making a comparison with it and the repetitive calling out of existential danger by the modern environmental movement. The process of drawing brought up for me my first screaming, organising in London the first Save the Whale Demonstration in 1973 and my subsequent pain of watching most of humanity in denial.”
Alexander added Bees to the extinction drawing, thinking it was complete, he stood back and looked and saw that it needed a frame. A frame of words.
Alexander says, “these words came to me complete and extraordinarily they fitted each side of the drawing without me having to alter the long sentence.”
The words on the frame
EVEN BEFORE RACHEL CARSON PUBLISHED ‘SILENT SPRING’ IN 1962 CONSCIOUS PEOPLE WERE SCREAMING THAT AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM OF LIMITLESS GROWTH ON A FINITE PLANET WOULD LEAD TO EXTINCTION NUMBER SIX AND SO HERE WE ARE ABOUT TO LOSE IT ALL
Buy A Print
A limited-edition of a 1oo x 80 cm hand-pulled lino print of this picture will be produced shortly, they will cost about 100€. Reserve your copy now – contact www.alexanderstudio.online
Talking to a client
Michael Alexander’s extraordinary image can be found in the Tierra Frágil exhibition held in the Old Town Hall in Órgiva.
The show is from the 10th until the 31st of August.
Sunday and Monday are closed.
Tuesday: 7pm – 10pm
Wednesday: 7pm – 10pm
Thursday: 11am – 1pm
Friday: 7pm – 10pm
Saturday: 11am – 1pm