Artist’s talk; Part 4

There’s just been a hiatus involving root canal therapy, teaching a workshop, and a friend visiting, but I intend to complete these posts related to my practice by hook or by crook!

To continue:

Now I wanted to escape the constraints of the paper. Traditionally, prints are placed on the paper with a border all around. Now I moved to making images comprised of layers of tissue paper joined together in long scroll forms. The light could penetrate them to show more than one level of imagery.

Unframed, they float, and move with the air currents. They appear very delicate, but are actually strong. These works dealt with the colonisation of Australia and the displacement of Aboriginal culture, which had no written language, so I began to introduce text.

Detail, Midden Series
Detail, Midden series

Here are a couple of details from works in the series, so you can see the texture of the paper. To see the full image, go to the printmaking page of the blog.

*A Midden is an old dump for domestic waste, or occupation site which reveals a great deal about the way people lived.

Exploring. Part 3

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.

Monoprint from brain scans, polymer intaglio and relief on tissue paper.
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.

Bone Ikat 7 X-rays, X-ray film, collaged tissue paper.

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.

X-ray and brain scan, tissue paper, intaglio and relief polymer.