Red Squirrel numbers have been declining in the UK since the introduction of the grey squirrel in the 1800's. This is because grey squirrels are larger and more robust than the red so are often more successful when competing for territory. They can also transmit a squirrel pox virus that kills red squirrels.
Red squirrels are also better adapted to coniferous woodlands whereas greys are more adapted to deciduous. Coniferous woodlands used to be much more widespread around the UK, but now covers just 2.5% of the land. Around half of this is non-native conifers which can have a negative effects on species composition and dynamics. Deforestation and changing land use can isolate areas which cannot sustain suitable populations of wildlife.
Red squirrels are important as they are best suited to spread the seeds of conifer trees without damaging the trees or competing with bird populations, unlike the grey squirrel. Red squirrels are vital for the restoration and reforestation of coniferous woodlands, which are home to large varieties of species and ecosystems.
10% of each sale from this red squirrel print will be given to the 'Red Squirrel Survival Trust' to help their ongoing efforts.
Making the Print
To get used to the colours I was seeing on the red squirrel image I did a coloured pencil drawing to begin the process.
From this I decided I needed a yellow, a couple of oranges, reds and browns to build up the colours I was seeing on the fur. Once the outline of the squirrel was transferred onto the lino block I carved out everything that I saw was white. The block was then inked in a light yellow mixed with an extender. The extender is used to make the colour less pigmented and more transparent. Once this initial yellow layer was printed I carved everything that I saw was yellow and printed the next layer in a light orange. This means anywhere I carved will remain yellow.
This process was repeated with a dark orange, red, light brown, dark brown and black layer. This print is estimated to have taken 50-60 hours to complete.
We have named him Red, here is Red mounted, packaged and framed, ready
Red Squirrel Survival Trust: https://www.rsst.org.uk