Nick Hayes: The Book of Trespass
Nick Hayes is not only a gifted graphic illustrator, he is also an insightful writer. Add to these talents his sensitivity to the ways of the natural world and a knowledge of the history of the land, and you will start to understand the rich ingredients that came together to produce his celebrated 2020 publication The Book of Trespass.
Published by Bloomsbury, the deeply engaging book is a travelogue wherein the reader follows Nick on his adventures through the many private estates that take up much of England’s green and pleasant land – only 8% of the English landscape is open to public access.
Using his sketching as an excuse to explore proscribed land, Nick takes us with him over stone walls and locked gates to discover the hidden vistas beyond. In doing so, he draws out the histories of colonial extraction that have led to England’s current demarcation, with much of the country now functioning as a quilt of fenced-off private idylls. Our guide explains how the English landscape has been reworked over centuries driven by profits accumulated in foreign lands, but also takes us through a counter-history of trespass that challenges this feudal system.
Nick’s tales, which are full of knowledgeable opinion, add to current debates around social justice and civil disobedience, yet they are told through the heart of an adventurer and the eyes of an artist, with each chapter being handsomely illustrated by Nick’s distinctive relief prints.
The title was rightly selected as a book of the year by the Guardian, for whom George Monbiot wrote: “The Book of Trespass is massively researched but lightly delivered, a remarkable and truly radical work, loaded with resonant truths and stunningly illustrated by the author.”