I started the Signal Arts Centre studio residency at the end of September and I blogged about starting it here. My plans for the studio this year included a daily self-portrait (which I blogged about here), making silk fibre paper for printing on (which I blogged about here) and printmaking. My initial plan was to create a series of monoprints and print them on the silk fibre paper. However, after trials (here), I found that the monoprints, though I liked the results on the paper I made, would actually be too vibrant for my Memory Is My Homeland series and even working small, would be too big for the silk fibre paper, which I wanted to be as memorable as the printed image. I have worked on very tiny lino blocks before and decided that this format would be better suited to the planned series. I had five images in mind and wanted to start work on them immediately.
I was happy with this test print and didn't do any further work on the chain lino. The image derives from my memory of the chain barriers in front of the first house in Toronto where I lived. I remembered sitting on the chains and treating it like a swing. I always wondered about this memory, until one time passing the area on a streetcar I saw the "barriers" that separated the house lawns from the surrounding footpaths. They were very low chains between short bollards, no more than two feet high. It made sense of my memory - my family moved from that house when I was two years old.
The test print of the gate at Knockeen was also satisfactory. This small gate, seemingly within the hedge separating the second house in which I lived in Kerry from the fields in front of the house, had a glass ball (a buoy?) affixed to it's post.
Though I bought the red wellies in Galway in the summer of 1988 because my shoes were soaked from a downpour, I practically lived in these wellies, rain or shine, while in Kerry 1994-1996. I wanted to keep the image simple, so did no further work on the lino.
I have spent about half my life living in Ireland now, just as long as I've lived in Toronto, and although I haven't always been in Bray, it is most certainly my "home". There is a Victorian promenade at the seafront, looking out over the Irish Sea, and it easily becomes a genteel symbol of the town's history.