Impact 8: Ghosts
Impact 8 was a hugely enjoyable and successful conference. As ever, my main problem was to decide, out of a huge range of subjects being presented, what to attend. I learned a great deal about new collaborations between art and science, and about our fascination as printmakers with old and new technologies. A paper on photography as a graphic art, by my colleague at Edinburgh College of Art, Ruth Pelzer Montada, was extremely informative, and, while we see one another to discuss subjects in Edinburgh, it was nevertheless, a luxury to be able to listen to Ruth lecture on the subject that is so close to my own work. A paper followed by John Phillips on his own photographic practice that was thoughtful and poetic. I loved his comparison of the architecture of the camera with that of the prison. And Monika Auch’s discussion of the intelligence of the hand added to my own thoughts on the importance of craft.
In my own exhibition, Ghosts, I want to question the quality of photographic realism and it was extremely helpful to be able to get immediate feedback from people who are also practitioners. A majority seemed to believe in the reality of my model figures, even while they enjoyed the ambiguity of their environment. As I cannot get away from how they are made, this was really helpful to know.
Spotlit, archival inkjet print, 30cm x 30cm
The prints I have worked on for this exhibition continue the theme of the seated and walking figure that has involved me for some months now. The chair back allows me to suggest that the figure is looking away from the viewer into a space that is hidden by the paper screen. I use a number of techniques. The large archival inkjet prints, while physically easier to print, are proofed many times, on screen and in print, before I am happy to say that the image is finished. Even then, I continue to work on different but similar versions, because the idea continues to occupy me. The most ambiguous images I have translated into three-plate etchings. I use very transparent ink so that each colour works with the others to create a shimmering affect. Smaller, photopolymer etchings also use two plates so that one colour can glow through another to create the final image. Registration can be problematic, but perseverance and precision win out in the end!
These are just a few of the proof prints I made for the 2-plate, photopolymer etching, Untitled (Spotlit). I was able to manipulate the colour in a very different way to the way I worked with the larger, digital, version on screen. While both media create rich results, I feel that I gain a greater knowledge of colour and its effect, through working physically with layers of ink.
I am exhibiting at the Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference in Dundee, 28/8/13-1/9/13, where I will also be in conversation with Ruth Pelzer Montada. Called, Betwixt and Between, our topic for debate is the importance of intermediality in printmaking.
A small exhibition in one of the University’s studios is suggestive and meditative, rather than descriptive and didactic. I represent the human form in ways that are timeless, genderless and ultimately fictional. Images are repeated in different media, on different scales, to create a dialogue between materials, between old and new media, between reality and fiction, between print and photography. Some images are familiar as I have continued to work on the same themes and to perfect new editions of Dusk Man and Walking Through. Sitting Man has become important to me; the simple prop of the chair allowing me to intimate that the figure is seen by us from behind and is looking away from the spectator.