Lithography Exhibition at Tarpey Gallery

I’m really excited to be showing some new litho work in this group show at Tarpey Gallery in October. The common link is the lithography fellowship at Leicester Print Workshop, which was for me a transformative experience. 

The work I’ll be showing is all based on time spent lurking around Canadian woodland – noticing, observing, reflecting, and being present. 
There will be some fantastic work on show, highlighting the creative possibilities of lithography. 

More info on Tarpey Gallery website: http://tarpeygallery.com/exhibition/a-study-in-stone/

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Things are clicking into place…gradually

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted about progress on here. Months have been flying by as if they were days, and now it’s November and I’ve only got a couple of months left of my internship at LPW. My ideas have been gradually developing over the last few months, and I think now are finally beginning to form into new work.

This year, more than ever before, has reminded me how precious time and space is – both to think and to make. Some days I can spend a good few hours intermittently standing and staring at bits of work, thinking about composition, colour, intention, etc. Other days I can be intensely immersed in doing – printing, graining stones, drawing. Both of these sorts of days are essential. Too much thinking, especially with lithography, means that I can think an idea through to an end point, but when I try to replicate it, it can never materialise into what I want it to be. Too much time spent making, and there is never an opportunity to stop, look, and re-evaluate the work.

During the summer I was at a mid-point in the internship – having learnt the basics of the lithography process, It was now time to start thinking about how I could apply these techniques to my own work. I was a bit stuck with this. Everything I’d done so far was just to test out particular techniques or materials, but I wanted the work I made to have more substance to it than that.

At the end of July I spent a few days at the house where my Grandad used to live in Weymouth. It’s a place I used to visit ever since I was a kid, and have fond memories of. The house has remained in my family since my Grandad’s death, but this year it was looking like it was going to be sold. The house was lying empty during the summer, so I went down with a few friends for a few days to make use of it. During that time I realised that this was possibly the last time I would be in the house, and I decided to return a few days later by myself. I didn’t really know why or what for, but it I decided to just take some photographs and do some drawing while I was there. This became almost a process of documentation. The house had hardly changed over the years – it was exactly as I had remembered – all the same furniture as when my Grandad had lived there, even photos of him dotted around. But no bodies. No people. None of the originals. Only memories, all fuelled and prompted by inanimate objects, sitting there just as they had done for so many years. But it wasn’t sad, it actually filled me with a kind of peacefulness which I rarely experience. A sense of time passing, slowly but surely, but also a strange sense of permanence.

I also ended up taking some film footage, which has actually become the basis of the work I am currently making. At around 5 or 6 pm each evening, the sun would bounce off the water in the harbour outside, and come in through the window, creating a constantly moving image on various walls in the house. So I set my camera to record, and sat back and watched. Sometimes the sun went in, and the dancing lights disappeared, then they came back stronger, and then faded away again. Sometimes a boat would pass, agitating the water and making the light move faster and jump around. But the dancing light was always kept within the confines of the windows which it passed through – contained within shadows.

When I got back to work after the break, I was preoccupied by the film footage I’d taken of the dancing shadows, and decided I wanted to incorporate them into my work. So I started to project still images from the footage onto stones, and trace them using rubbing block – a lithographic drawing material which creates very soft, subtle marks and tones.

During the summer I had also been doing quite a lot of drawing, some of it very detailed, and some of it very scribbly and quick. It was whilst I was drawing one day, that I realised I had been contentedly scribbling away for over an hour. All I was doing was filling in a shape with HB pencil. But I loved it. The sense of peacefulness I experienced during this was not dissimilar to that which I’d experienced whilst watching shadows on the walls. A feeling of total immersion in the moment, in the present, the right now. I realised that these scribbles were the physical manifestations of that, and so was the film footage I’d taken. So it seemed right to try to tie these two elements somehow.

It’s all made me realise that time spent researching, practicing, experimenting, documenting, playing, thinking, exploring, is never wasted time.

Below are some image of the work I’ve been doing. I’ve got an exhibition starting on 8th January 2014 – ‘Momentary Permanence – Works in progress’, at the LCB Depot Print Room, so the next couple of months will be busy! Looking forward to it…

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Photo Plate Lithography Workshop at WYPW

A couple of weekends ago I ran the first ever Photo Plate Lithography workshop at West Yorkshire Print Workshop. It was great! It was so lovely to be able to introduce a new technique to the workshop.

It took a good few days of preparation to get everything ready and set up – as always with printmaking the only way to really know whether something will work is just to practice. So I spent some time making some test plates on our exposure unit, eventually coming to the conclusion that a standard exposure time of around 5-6 minutes is sufficient for most images. The plates I ended up ordering for the workshop and to sell in the shop were called ‘Europlate’, and a very nice chap at the company advised me on what would be best for our purposes. I also bought in some developer, which we mix down half and half with water for standard plate developing.

In the workshop we already use the Hawthorn Printmakers stay-open inks for intaglio and relief printing. It says on their website that they are also suitable for lithography, so I thought I would try using this even though I’ve never used them for lithography before. They actually worked well, although they do contain very high amounts of pigment, so it is necessary to extend them quite a bit with their ‘transparent ink’, especially for very detailed images. We printed the plates on our Hunter-Penrose etching press – bumping the pressure up a bit by putting a larger litho plate on the press bed, (as the plates are quite thin), which worked a treat.

We had a full course, and I was really happy to see a lot of familiar faces – members who wanted to learn the technique or had done it years ago and wanted a refresher, and also a some non-members who were completely new to it.

The day was fantastic – so enjoyable to be passing on the skills I’ve been learning at Leicester Print Workshop over the past year! And everyone was so excited by the ideas and possibilities that the technique generated. We’ve already had one member come in and start making plates since the course, and we’ve already got bookings for the next course at WYPW in March next year, here: http://www.wypw.org/shop/photo-plate-lithography-march/

Here are a few photos from the day…

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Back to the grindstone.

So after a bit of a break during July, I’ve been back at Leicester Print Workshop in August, working on stones as usual. I can’t quite believe how the months are flying by. I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front recently, and I’ve got a big backlog of process photographs to upload, so I’ll be trying to catch up with that in the next few weeks and doing a few more posts.

I had some good news at the end of July – my application for funding from the Arts Council to help me complete the internship was successful! It was such welcome news to receive, and topped off an amazing, and very welcome, summer holiday! The funding will help me to use the remaining months of the internship to create a series of new lithographs for exhibition in 2 solo exhibitions in 2014 – one at the LCB Print Depot in Leicester, and one in the gallery at West Yorkshire Print Workshop. More details about these to come.

I will also be running and assisting on a number of workshops and talks during 2013 and early 2014 to help spread the lithography word – all detailed below…

Sat 21st September 2013
Photo-Plate Lithography – day course at Leicester Print Workshop

Sat 19th October 2013
Introduction to Photo-Plate Lithography – day course at West Yorkshire Print Workshop

Sat 26th / Sun 27th October 2013
Stone Lithography Weekend Workshop at Leicester Print Workshop (Assisting tutor Serena Smith)

Sat 23rd November 2013
Photo-Plate Lithography – day course at Leicester Print Workshop

Weds 15th January 2014
‘Stone Lithography’ short film screening and artist talk at Leicester Print Workshop

Sat 15th March 2014
Introduction to Photo-Plate Lithography – day course at West Yorkshire Print Workshop

Tues 18th March 2014
I will be giving a talk and demonstration at West Yorkshire Print Workshop to accompany my solo exhibition.

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with my progress and where you can see my work, you can also sign up to my mailing list.

Another post to follow soon…


Printing a litho stone…

Here is a little video of me printing a test litho stone last week. The image is made up of a series of squares in which I have used a different drawing material or technique to produce a different mark. I was really pleased with how it came out, but it might need a bit of etching back this week. It gets slightly tedious about half way through but bear with it! Hopefully it gives a little insight into the printing process, with some nice music as an added bonus. There’s also a photo of the finished print underneath.

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Week two learning lithography – Photo-litho test plates and drawing onto my first stone. And a cat called Morris who likes to sit in the kitchen sink.

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A test plate exposed to an ink wash on drafting film for varying amounts of time, ranging from 9 – 18 light units. Very much like photo-etching in that the longer you expose the plate, the lighter the image becomes. But SO much more detail than photo-etching, and no need for aquatint or halftones as these plates produce continuous tone because of the way they are printed.

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Resulting prints from the test plate. Due to the nature of the printing process, more detail is revealed from the plate the more prints are taken – showing here the first print taken above, and the 9th print taken below.

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My first drawing onto stone, experimenting with dry drawing materials such as litho pencils and crayons and rubbing block to create subtle tones. We also put a first gum etch onto this stone, so it will ready for it’s second gum etch next week.

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Morris.


New beginnings and the formation of ideas.

This week I started my post-graduate internship at Leicester Print Workshop. It was a busy couple of days, and I felt as though I absorbed a massive amount of information in such a short space of time, so looks set to be an intensive year, and I can’t wait!

Seeing as this is a bit of a new beginning for me, it has brought me back to some ideas I was mulling over at the end of last year, but never got the chance to post about, about how a piece of work begins, or how an idea forms – another recent topic of conversation at the print workshop.

For me, it has always been a kind of intuitive thing. But talking to other artists has brought to light that fact that every individual goes about it in a completely different way. This may be pretty obvious, but its not really something I’ve thought about in much depth before, and its made me examine my own way of working in more detail. I wanted to try to describe how an idea forms for me – just to see if I could articulate it in a comprehensible way. Without a better way of describing it, an image tends to appear to me, (not by some divine light shining down through the clouds – it’s usually very mundane). This could be sparked by anything – a throw away comment someone makes, a song lyric, a sentence in a book, a texture on a wall, the way one piece of furniture might sit compared to another, or a conversation which seems to recur coincidentally time and time again. This then tends to result in a fairly clear image of the piece of work I want to create, although inevitably that image changes through the subsequent processes of sketching, mock-ups, proofing, etc, often resulting in an outcome which is totally different to that which I intended.

In contrast, I was talking recently to a couple of artists who work rather differently – without any clear image of how they would like the work to look. Instead they let the materials and marks on the paper, or brush strokes on the canvas, guide them through the image-making process. I really admire people who can work like that, and I think it can add a sense of freshness and vibrance to a piece of work, and prevent work from going stale.

In contrast again, I know some artists who have a very rigid idea from the start of the piece of work they want to make, and do not deviate from this original idea and see it through to the end. This I also admire, as it involves a determination and blinkered vision which I’m not sure if I possess.

In short, I think it’s really important for an artist to be aware of how and why an idea forms, and to consider the ways in which that idea could be best interpreted and fulfilled – whether to stay true to the original vision, (if there is one), whether to deviate and explore alternative avenues, or whether to start from scratch and let the work grow organically. This also harks back to my previous post about working within the constraints of a particular medium.

These are definitely ideas which I’ll be considering throughout this year, and I am really excited to see how the lithography process will influence my work.

I started off this week learning about photo-lithography, and below are the resulting prints from my first ever photo-litho plates. Ok so I think I need a bit more practice!

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