Paintmaking in the Gallery

As part of our group exhibition, Accumulative, I will be in the Arts in Oxford Gallery this Sunday 23 October from 10.30 am until 4 pm making paint from rock from the Canterbury area and further afield.

Hope to see you there!

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Hot Off the Press

Tomorrow's Beginning

Tomorrow’s Beginning

Bro

Boro

Image in Search of a Title

An Image in Search of a Title

Hot Off the Press;  four printmakers showing at Arts in Oxford Gallery, Oxford, North Canterbury

This selection of monoprints is my first venture into exhibiting prints.  I hope I’m keeping true to my art practice of using process and chance to make the image.  I like to use recycled items, such as scraps of paper, cloth and plastic to print with. The scraps are either used as found or cut into shapes or patterns.

Through an interest in Japanese prints and making textile works I discovered the term ‘boro’. Boro is a Japanese word that translates as ‘rags or scraps of cloth, and the term boro is also used to describe clothes and household items which have been patched-up and repaired many times’[i]. The textiles could be passed down the generations and so also become holders of memory, in much same way as in old patchwork quilts.

In this set of prints I have interpreted this textile construction method by reusing the plastic, paper and cloth as the printing ‘plates’, integrating the shapes one on another to create an image that formed itself piece by piece. Would this go here? – What colour contrast will I do next? – the image in effect prompting a response from me.  Memories (for me) are contained in many of the ‘scraps’ used.

The base of all the works is a found shape that reminded me of a kimono, and from this emerged the idea of boro as a process to create these images.

[i] https://furugistarjapan.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/boro-japanese-folk-fabric/

 

Summer printing

In my spare time… I’ve been doing some printing; actually it is becoming a little obsessive which surprises me as it has taken a while for the process to become second nature.  I no longer approach the press with trepidation.  Anyway, there is a lot to learn which is good, and the block or plate making part of the process is great – full of possibilities.

I have been organising a life drawing group and the first print shown below started life as a transfer print from a photocopy of one of my drawings. The inked plate was run through the press after making the transfer print, so that the drawing appeared on this second printing as a white line.  The mossy, stone-like inky background has possibly a good connection to the second image which is a lino block print – and my second attempt at carving lino.  The print shows the reverse of ‘Meigle No 4’ which is a Pictish cross slab.  The decoration surrounding it is what I can only call an exercise in ‘control of the carving tool’.

We visited the Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum in Perthshire, Scotland, in 2012 when staying near Alyth which was home to the generations of Barclays and Colvilles in my family tree.  The cross slab image was copied from the photograph in George and Isabel Henderson’s book, The Art of the Picts.  This is part of my cultural heritage that I feel I can use in my art – by association with place if not by genetic inheritance which, if you go back far enough, will be unknown.  We also saw the Pictish stones at the Eassie churchyard in Angus, and my two photos taken there follow the print images.

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Meigle-standing-stone

This Eassie cross slab is enclosed in thick glass for protection, accounting for the reflections seen in the photo. Very impressive object. The Historic Scotland information panel explains what is known about the iconography and history of these stones.

Eassie-cross-slab

Eassie-pictish-stone-info

Dyeing Scraps with Tea and Rust

Being a Jill of all trades, I was prompted to have another go with metal and tannin by an article in Wendy Feldberg’s blog Threadborne.  I am switching from researching, to seed collecting, to sewing up clothes and soft furnishings, to printing, to photography, to collecting more rocks for pigments,  to drawing and back again with great rapidity at the moment.  So this dip into dyeing is yet another experiment.  Making the invisible visible through chance.

My intention for this project was to get some pieces of cloth that I could use in my art work.  I had one bath with just the tea and tea bags, and the other with the metal and tannin.  I tried to combine the two dyes, moving some bundles from the tea to the metal bath and leaving part of the bundle above the dye so it was just dipped into the liquid.

The results from the dye session were good, better than expected.  It was a simple process compared to other dye sessions I have done that took much more of my time – or I should say – my presence, watching and checking.  I used some new squares of light weight cotton with a glazed  surface on one side, together with some old sheeting and clothing.   The glazed side accepted the ‘dye’ the same as the unglazed side.  I am thinking I might try printing on this fabric…

Cloths were rolled or folded, then bundled, clipped and tied.  I actually had two dyeing sessions, refreshing the initial brew with more tea, tea bags and vinegar.  The metal was rusty scraps, coins, bulldog clips, an old metal zip, and some aluminium foil (don’t think that did anything) all in a plastic ice cream 1 litre tub. Once out of these cold dye baths – one was overnight, the second one day – the cloths were rinsed, then left for a short while in salty water, then washed with Ecostore hand wash liquid soap that sits in the laundry.  I was very lazy, but really I only had machine washing powder as the other option.  And I felt the hand wash liquid would be softer on the dye.  Anyway, it worked fine.

After drying, the cloths were ironed – once flattened the magic really became apparent.  I included some pink rose petals and leaves in one bundle.  The petals left a pale green colour, and there is a mysterious very pale pink – cannot image where that came from, but it may have been a label that was attached to the plastic mesh bag as it was not from the rose petals.  I included the bag hoping to get an impression of the grid, but that didn’t happen.  I also folded a piece of acid free office computer paper and put that in the second dye bath.

 

 

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Dyed-paper

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January 2015 printing – Seeds and Seed Pods

Seeds and seed pods are really quite beautiful, make good subjects for art and design.  This is a collagraph plate that I made ‘last year!’ in December from dried seed pods of the Honesty plant (Lunaria annua, aka Money Plant) and one of the plant’s leaves.  I had kept the dried specimen from 2012, so it has lasted well.  I glued the dried plant material onto a piece of mat board and coated front and back of the board in two layers of polyurethane varnish –  but it still had a little warp.  This did not make any difference when the plate was printed.  (Or so it seemed to me…)  A small piece of the leaf had already broken away in the past, but apart from an interesting phenomenon that appeared when I inked the plate (the layers of varnish came away from three of the seed pods) the plate has held up well through its various inkings and cleanings.  The photo here is what it looks like, cleaned, after an afternoon’s printing with Akua water based ink.

 

Cineraria-plate

 

This is a ghost print (i.e. second print from an inked plate) from one of the initial printings.

 

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The next two images are of a print made by inking up a piece of plastic, sending the plate and the plastic through the press, and then taking a print off the plate.  The plastic creates an interesting background with plenty of unexpected results which is one of the reasons I enjoy printing.

 

HonestyP2

 

Finally, here is a the result of selectively cleaning the inked plate, so that only the raised parts of the collagraph will print.  Still have a lot to learn!  At least I now know that placing the paper on top of the plate creates an embossed image.  The digital ink jet paper is dry and probably causes the creasing.  I really enjoy using Akua ink as it is easier to clean up and I do not like using turps!  The ‘black’ ink (actually a combination of colours, more a dark grey) creates an image that almost could be a photocopy.

 

Honesty-P1

 

I have been collecting Rocket (Eruca sativa) seeds from the veggie bed.  Really quite fascinating, and I notice that the membrane between the two halves of the seed pod is similar to that found in dried Honesty plants.  I would like to find Lunaria rediviva a perennial ‘cousin’ of Honesty which has yet another variation on this form with more elongated pods.  [Just found out that they are all members of the Mustard family (Brassicaceae)!]

 

Rocket-seed-pod narrow

Rocket-seed-pods

Finally, poppy seed pods from the garden.

Poppy-seed-pods

Colours of Chance

While in Dundee, Scotland, last year, we visited RRS Discovery, Robert Falcon Scott’s ship that sailed down to the Antarctic for the British Antarctic Expedition in 1901.  Discovery is now moored at the Discovery Museum on the River Tay.   Ernest Shackleton was also on this voyage and it was his first visit to the ice.  More information on the museum’s website:  http://www.rrsdiscovery.com

If you are in Dundee, it is well worth a visit!

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The ship was a great place for artists, and a few things caught my (pigment seeking) eye, especially these black marks which are marks left by coal on the canvas shute as the coal was being loaded onto the ship.

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This ship has been restored, and they left a portion as it looked before this work was carried out.

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More stains and rust.

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