A woodblock print of Newgrange by Martin Byrne

Totem & Stone Age Woodcuts

As I finished art college in 1992, I became very interested in ancient cultural uses of art, particularly Native American subjects.

As I read about the Medicine Wheel, through the writings of Kenneth Meadows and the teachings of Sun Bear, I began a series of woodblocks illustrating the twelve lunar totems - one for each month. These totems are an Earth based teaching, similar to Astrology, which uses an animal to represent a time, element or direction. (A group of us had also started building medicine wheels on the Claddagh beach in Galway. See Claddagh section for more details).

After completing the set of twelve, I began to put the prints onto T shirts, part of a notion of mine that art should not be confined to gallery walls. I followed on by illustrating the Directions & Elements, ending up with a set of 21 animal designs.

Woodblock print of the Bricklieve Mountains in County Sligo by Martin Byrne

Imagined view of the Bricklieve Mountains, cherry, 1996.


However, outgrowing the American slant, most of the designs are influenced by Irish mythology and European fairy tales. And most incorporate a word, usually in Irish (a language which I don't speak very well).

These prints are currently available as hand printed woodblocks on recycled paper; I finished making and selling them on t-shirts several years ago. Along with the animal woodcuts are six or seven stone age images and designs. There is a Tolkien influence in there too (I never expected the movie, 10 years ago! They all said it could never be filmed).

The Spring range corresponds to the signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini; Summer to Cancer, Leo and Virgo; Autumn to Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius; and Winter to Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Directions, Elements and Stone Age Designs are on seperate pages.

Designs are available printed on recycled paper.

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