Explore the new works from Joe Winstanley. Joe is a printmaker and founder of Studio Skai, a series of mindful prints aimed to inspire an appreciation for the present and gratitude towards the natural world. In presenting his new project ‘Careless Torque’, Joe talks about the art of bouldering, and its profound ability to find a state of mindfulness and connection to the landscape.
Stanage Edge in the Peak District is an outcrop of rock that is world famous with rock climbers and boulderers, who come and scale its grit face and series of boulders found in The Plantation. Stanage Edge has been my spiritual home of 22 years and has been the inspiration for Skai, a collection of prints aimed to inspire mindfulness and gratitude towards the natural world.
Careless Torque is Studio Skai’s latest project. It encapsulates what Skai stands for and what it is inspired by; the ability to understand and appreciate the mental process. And like Skai, the art and sport of bouldering involves an open and clear mind-set. It is a wonderful example of understanding the importance of mindfulness. In bouldering, you are faced with a problem - a route, which you assess first and then attempt to climb and overcome. Using only your fingers and feet, the climb becomes personal and intimate. You expect failure, struggle and hardship. Tackling the problem could take an hour or two years. It becomes a personal project, one that is hopefully overcome with the right mind-set and determination of character to succeed.
The left end of The Plantation at Stanage Edge is based around a cubic mass called The Grand Hotel. The biggest, boldest block in the area and home to two of the best bouldering problems on the grit face. One of which is Careless Torque ‘E7 8a’ – the numbering and lettering defines the grade of the climb or problem according to its difficulty and danger; technicality of moves, length of route, protection needed, stamina, and so on.
It is a route ranking amongst the highest grades in the world, and probably the grit’s first 7b move. The route was first ascended by the legendary climber, and local face, Ron Fawcett in the 1980s – the problem has seen only about 10 or so repeats since, with the likes of Billy Ridal and Mina Leslie-Wujastyk. With an obscenely technical move over to the bottom overhang, the crux, to the final V9 moves providing a scary finale. It stands as a truly magnificent gritstone metaphor.
For each Skai print sold, 5% of profits go towards helping papyrus UK, a national suicide prevention charity. For more information about Papyrus UK visit: papyrus-uk.org/donate
Why Papyrus UK? Thankfully, the issue of suicide hasn't directly affected me. However, the village I live in, which sits below the guard of Stanage, has been a place for it. Nationally, the issue is one of the biggest killers amongst men aged 45 and below, and despite suicide having no disregard for gender, there is an evident silence amongst young men that needs to be de-stigmatised. It has inspired me to create Skai as a space of honesty, reflection and adaption. I am not this enlightened counsellor, just rather another person who has experienced these weird feelings that come and go and I would love for Skai to be a closer look into how I experience and manage my own life.