While I worked on this print time seemed to slow, we were emerging from an epidemic, traffic in the normally busy area of the Breakfast Creek studio very quiet, people walking, boats reflecting, a calm but unstable energy.
A book I’d read last year had left an impression on me and I’m reminded of it as I draw the nearby boats.
It’s a scene described in Emma Jane Kirby’s 2016 book The Optician Of Lampedusa, an Italian navy diver enters a migrant boat sinking in the waters of the Mediterranean:… You see, they were all holding hands. There had been a young woman, the diver said, dressed in a very white shirt and black trousers who was jammed against the cabin stairwell, blocking the door. When his buddy had yanked her arm to free the body, she had concertinaed and then sprung back, bringing with her a string of other bodies all joined at the hands. It was as if they’d become one giant singular entity, the diver said. Like a Christmas paper chain.
The scene is described in conjunction with a recreational boating holiday, a powerful juxtaposition of the unfolding tragedy within a bucolic scene.
The print was to follow the basic framework of a painting recently completed, a painting that had sat unfinished for a length of time before arriving, I didn’t understand how it worked and wanted to deconstruct the steps.
Printmaking has a rich history of evolving methods for repeating an image or text, the older methods haven’t been superceded but sedimented into the body of knowledge always ready to be reinvented into novel technical constructions. This print was to utilize the qualities of various print processes towards an open-ended result, pretty much simulating the way the original painting had proceeded.
My art making usually follows a general shape of an image or frame of a system, the layout is given and so frees up the play of small decisions. In this work the vine pattern is a given stylistic image its leaves play across the space according the underlying emergent qualities of a Fibonaci series of curves. It is these curves that the floating figures later position themselves by.
While my input into the layers of imagery was fairly spontaneous in working the mark, an attending care was given to its editioning by Chris. I guess his training as a printer pressed into him a methodical manner of organising his knowledge of printmaking, while his upbringing and education provided a grasp of chemistry and biology. It’s a framework that gives him the architecture to improvise with elements and to envisage something that reaches beyond their standard function.
Step by step the print consists of :
lithography – transferring the grease pencil pattern drawing from rough cloth to litho plate.
Monoprint stain repeatedly hand painted on acetate and pressed into the paper.
Lino relief print in white.
Dry point print of marks punched into a pvc block.
Lino relief print inked with a two colour (rainbow) roll.
The print has been a journey of sorts made possible by the tenacity and skills of master printer Christopher Hagen of Greyhand Press and studio intern Rainer Doecke.