Shortly before his death in August 2013, Heaney had completed his translation of the Aeneid Book VI and had started working on a collector's publication with Jan Hendrix and Hans van Eijk (Bonnefant Press). It was the proofs from this draft that enabled the Heaney family/estate and Faber & Faber (official publisher of Heaney’s work) to decide on the ‘final’ edition, published earlier this year to international acclaim.
Hendrix and Heaney had formed a friendship collaborating on two previous occasions. In 1992 Hendrix had illustrated The Golden Bough, Heaney’s earlier translation of a part of Aeneid Book VI. A second book, The Light of the Leaves, followed in 1999: poems mostly dedicated to his friends, all poets, Hughes, Brodsky, Herbert. It also carried images of the landscape of Yagul, Mexico, this time printed in stark black and white on Nepalese paper.
For this latest collaboration, Hendrix has chosen to portray the landscape in a Dantesque setting in accordance with Book VI. Says Hendrix: “...As a farewell to a dear friend and a dear place, I have vowed never to return to Yagul again. The images are made in a panoramic fashion, as if standing on the great rock watching over the surrounding valleys. Strangely enough the cactuses that I portrayed in 1992 and 1999 and the years in between are now dying and disappearing.”