I’m also an explorer. When I make work, I hope for something outside of me to contribute something. It might sound a bit crazy, but it’s as if I’m only part of the process. I’m on a journey which hasn’t got a destination, so commonly, pieces of my work or series in my work are stops along the way.
Over time, I’ve learnt to trust my hand, so that I no longer throw things out, and I no longer regard things as ‘failed’. They will sit around the studio for months sometimes, until I can find the right place for them. I find time in the studio when I can get out of my head is the most productive. I play music or listen to the radio to facilitate the process of turning off my brain to let it happen.
Some years ago, I made a series of prints based on x-rays and scans of the body. X-rays have a kind of bloom on the surface which carries fingerprints and scars from being handled by doctor and patient. They seemed to me to be beautiful – the ghostly image, the passages of darkness and light – and the surface seemed to me to carry a message about what people were feeling about their bodies, their hopes and fears. As I explored these images I noticed a texture of fine striations of darkness and light, which looked like the weave of a fabric. Noticing the way wet ink often transferred to tissue paper laid between newly made prints, I developed a printing process which layered imagery on transparent papers onto the base print. This produced subtle colour shifts, and allowed for a lot of compositional experimentation.
It was very liberating. I felt no longer tied to the information on the plate. I found I could make a series of different prints from one plate by altering the way I inked up and overlays of transparent paper on the base print. Now, I could print many different images from the same plates. I started to develop a library of plates, which I used in different prints by inking them in different colours and combining them with other plates in different ways. I stopped routinely making editions.