Wednesday 4 November 2020

pre-lockdown printmaking

It's only been a couple of weeks since I left the studio residency at Signal Arts Centre, due to the second lockdown, but I did get a lot done in the three weeks that I was there, and am happily continuing the momentum. I posted a blog at the start of the residency here.

My plan while at Signal was to focus on creating silk-fibre paper (I had learned how to do this in a Zoom workshop in the summer and blogged about that workshop here) and use these pages as surfaces for alkyd monoprints. I spent the first week and a bit at Signal making silk fibre paper, which I blogged about here and then I wanted to start printing, but first I did some test prints of images that I was interested in creating as part of Memory Is My Homeland. I have previously blogged about the origins of this body of work here and have continued to blog about it numerous places on this blog (NB, at the beginning I simply referred to it as "The Home Project"). 

One of my reference photos is of my Mum & I, in the 1980s, standing in the backyard of my parents house in Bray in front of the clothesline, pegs awaiting laundry. The backyard was a very tiny space, off the kitchen and, while I lived in this house for a couple of years in the late 1980s, it mirrored my own backyard on the same street later when I returned to the east coast from living in Kerry, on the west coast. In any case, it was the image of colourful plastic pegs, waiting on an empty line with a white-washed stone wall behind them, that interested me.

Because I knew I wanted the handmade silk-fibre paper to be as featured as nuch as the printed image, I was working on small acetate plates, using alkyd paints to create monoprints. However, even with a tiny brush, I could not get the details of the pegs on the line, and the press just seemed too happy to squeeze the colour enough to blur the image. Although I do not think this image (below) worked, I did not give up on the idea of the peg image!

Although the Victorian railing has since been painted more subtly (which I think is uninteresting) the orange and bright blue railing is an iconic image of Bray, recognizable to anyone with affiliations to the town. 

I bought a pair of red wellies in Galway in 1988, shortly after I had re-located to Ireland. I wore them on dry, sunny days in Kerry while gardening, and they were a necessity on the wet, sideways-rain days too. I think their death-knell was sounded when I sunk into the bog while looking for the stations of the cross on the mountain near my home in Kells Bay, Co. Kerry. The stations were there since the days of hidden religion, before Daniel O'Connell, "The Liberator", secured the emancipation of Catholics in Ireland in 1829.

I was so intrigued with the first test print, that I did another on heavier paper.

The final test was to see how the print would work on silk fibre paper. On the one hand I was happy with the print - the silk fibre paper was happy to take the print - but I thought the image was still too big for the paper. 

With regards to Memory Is My Homeland I decided that the colours were too vibrant for my idea of memory. It was after doing this print that I made the decision to do much tinier images, using lino blocks and the final images will be monochromatic. I have not made any decision on colour for future prints, but I have begun working on the linos. Watch this space!

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