Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Long 3-panel print

Each panel of the print and then the whole print on the floor, drying. I can't get back far enough from it to take a good photograph of the whole print at the moment. It is printed on paper which is 35" wide and 93" long.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Link to Nick Pearson's poem

Nick and I discussed how words might change over time, how they might break up or metamorphose into something completely different like rocks do. This initial discussion influenced the concept of Nick's poem ‘Word Search.’ In writing it he also had in mind the 19th century geologist Roderick Murchison who frequented the Dudley area and gave lectures on his theories to packed audiences in the limestone caves. Nick was also aware that I planned to use a large roller to print my work.

WORD SEARCH by Nick Pearson

I buried dictionaries in beds of lime,
that was my single most greatest experiment.
I sent all the editions of their time under -
Longmans, Chambers, Collins, the OED -
none of them spared, no nod of favour
to popular sellers, plain English hallmarks,
puffed up versions from foremost authorities.
I bulldozered a vast lake of billions
and then, because I am a patient man,
waited through millennia as one on one,
ripple bed fellows lying in the layers,
they rubbed each other up, text to text.
Through long eras of decay meanings mulched,
words wallowed in the thickness of their weight,
ditched to mud-fudge or stood fossil-firm.

This word was a smiler, liked meetings,
the fun of the network; but knew its place.
These two shared a job, wore eachother’s clothes,
fetched and carried where some proved lazy.
But collaborators and negotiators apart,
much of what you see at this lexical face
represents the survival of the spiniest,
a clear fact I knew my methods would prove.
Tap deep and they will offer themselves up:
here is one from a weak and awkward group,
one squeezed so tight it shone above the rest -
and this here is one that fought, held its ground,
a word-stone between rocks and a hard place.

My image

My image shows rock strata. More recent layers are obviously at the top and include a buried book and 'lost' letters; plant material, a can, netting, manmade objects. Subsequent layers show differently textures rock. The lower ones include fossils including a trilobite, an ammonite and traces of crinoids.

Layers continue to form with new debris and new layers are created, things are crushed, lost or changed and only traces remain. This is rather like the printing process too. Recycled pieces of debris are glued to some board. Ink is applied to the surface and when pressure is applied some of it transfers to the paper. Some details show clearly and others don't and it's not possible to print exactly the same image twice - each time it is unique.

"Steamroller printmaking" at the Rodd, Sidney Nolan Trust, Presteigne

I made 4 printing plates at home, using a range of materials to create texture including: grit, pollyfilla, tile grout, couscous, rice, rosemary, thyme, netting, wood glue and pva. First I joined my 4 collagraph plates together and then applied ink to the surface. I placed it all on the ground in the barn and put paper on it, covering the whole thing with some carpet underlay.

Anthony Plant ran over it on his roller. ( I did question the use of the word "steam roller" since there was no steam. He kindly offered to boil a kettle for me if I wished!) Anthony, Liza and Pam assisted in peeling back the paper and getting it onto the wall. The sheer scale of the task involves good team work and my only misfortune was sitting on somebody else's inked up plate by mistake.

This was the first of a number of proofs until I got a stronger print which I plan to exhibit at the Rodd in September.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Planning Steam Roller printing next week

I'm planning to use 4 pieces of mount board as my support and correspondence with Mike Clements who runs the Steam Roller Project at the Sidney Nolan Trust has confirmed that I'm on the right lines.

I've drawn out possible shapes and have considered various ways of suggesting textured rock strata and now just need to get on and do it and see what happens.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Mixing up the mordant and thinking about language

While mixing up the mordant I was thinking about the changes of language over time - the layers of language and words lost. Nick Pearson's email about layers of words and words lost, new words invented.... compressed words.

When studying Linguistics at Uni some years ago I remember that I looked at the stuff about Old English replacing a Celtish language, then Middle English, the major vowel shift/change where they shortened, then Modern English... Words were lost, new words were imported from other languages, the words for animals and meat got separated beef and cow, pig and pork....

Could the words from different times be trapped or compressed in the rock.. Which words should I choose? Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare? Then later more modern words including very recent ones like "dongle"?

Phonetics was also interesting.. listening to people making sounds and watching large, live pics of people pronouncing words and writing down the phonetic transcription... but that's a different track.

I need to try something out...

Sunday, 14 June 2009

More at the Sidney Nolan Trust

I experimented with different ways of "painting" marks onto the aluminium e.g. spit bite. I also tried wax crayon, acrylic paint and lard. I was trying to create an image that looks something like a close up image of the rock called gabro.

I etched the plate in copper sulphate saline solution - a beautiful blue liquid which fizzed when the metal was in it. Depending on the heat of the sun and how many plates had been in the mixture, it etched from between 15 seconds and, once at its slowest 15 minutes. Usually it was just a couple of minutes. This is much quicker than ferric chloride.

I like the way that you can create an aquatint like effect, greys and a really black black (see below) by leaving the plate uncovered. You don't get the same kind of unusable surface (open bite) that you get with other metals and mordants. So you can create line and tone without the need for something like a relatively safe spray aquatint of screen filler and water or a much more toxic car spray or resin coating.

I definitely want to do more with this. Liza had a really solid base of experimental research behind her and we were able to make effective use of her knowledge. Working large scale also involves close cooperative working with others in the group and this also went very well - a very supportive group.

Printmaking conditions are rather difficult due to limited space in the print barn. The press is good though and solar printing as well safer etching are possible. The cramped conditions are more than made up for by the people involved and the experimental and creative approach. We had mainly fine weather and it is lovely to be printmaking in the countryside in a barn as well as a temporary tented structure.

I do hope that more funding is made available though (a funding bid has been submitted) as it would make it much, much easier from a technical point of view if there were more space and it were easier for local users of the facility in winter too.

At The Rodd, Sydney Nolan Trust - 11,12 June

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Collagraph - first print

Not a bad first print from this plate - will see what it's like with colour as well when I re-print.

Saturday, 6 June 2009


I've now got my photos of gabbro that I took looking through a microscope in Dudley Museum at Easter. I love the textures of these readymade abstract images.

You can't trust Wikipedia for everything but this is probably correct:Gabbro (pronounced /ˈɡæbroʊ/) refers to a large group of dark, coarse-grained, intrusive mafic igneous rocks chemically equivalent to basalt. The rocks are plutonic, formed when molten magma is trapped beneath the Earth's surface and cools into a crystalline mass.The vast majority of the Earth's surface is underlain by gabbro within the oceanic crust, produced by basalt magmatism at mid-ocean ridges. Gabbro is dense, greenish or dark-colored and contains pyroxene, plagioclase, amphibole, and olivine (olivine gabbro when olivine is present in a large amount). Gabbro is an essential part of the oceanic crust... UsesGabbro often contains valuable amounts of chromium, nickel, cobalt, gold, silver, platinum, and copper sulfides.Ocellar varieties of gabbro can be used as ornamental facing stones, paving stones and it is also known by the trade name of 'black granite', which is a popular type of graveyard headstone used in funerary rites. It is also used in kitchens and their countertops, also under the misnomer of 'black granite' Gabbro was named by the German geologist Christian Leopold von Buch after a town in the Italian Tuscany region

Collagraph plate

Following our Imagetextimage on Monday I' ve been working further on the collagraph plate and it's ready now. I'll pull a trial proof tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Steam roller prints - idea

Thanks to talking to Kryssie and Jane, I'm going to experiment with a small sheet of rubber and some polystrene (possibly a cup) to see what I can do. I might carve into the rubber and ink it up. Printing this combined with polystyrene. The cup will probably just roll off if a steam roller were to run it over. I may need to look at how to adhere one side to the rubber (or something else) ink it, and then run it over.

This all links to the idea of layers of rock, fossils, rubbish and how we are creating our own fossils.

I've linked to this theme a couple of times in the past. For example, for the Soul of All Things Ended exhibition at Bywaters in London when I produced some large scale monoprints. Also in some soft ground etchings and photopolymer etchings both with chine colle. http://www.lindanevill.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/recycling/recyclingmenu.html

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Patterns of Gabbro - on aluminium?

I had a good conversation with Liza (artist - Printmaker/painter) today on the phone about etching with aluminium and copper sulphate and salt. I experimented with this briefly in 2004 with Friedhart Kiekeben and had good results. Liza reminded me that it bites quickly, creating deep lines in 10 minutes. The aluminium has plate tone, making aquatint less important. I could glue carborundum grit to the plate to create a denser, darker tone if wished. It's so much cheaper than using copper which I have been using with ferric chloride.

If possible, I'll try to obtain some copper sulphate before June and try a few small plates and then work with Liza, larger scale, in June.

I do like the textural patterns of Gabbro so may well use this as a starting point for work on aluminium.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Visit to Dudley Museum and Art Gallery - Thursday 9 April

A fascinating day looking at rock through a microscope and 'capturing' it as images onto a lap top. I discovered that I particularly liked the textures of granite and gabbro. Looked up gabbro

and this is what I found:

Gabbro (pronounced /ˈɡæbrəʊ/) refers to a large group of dark, coarse-grained, intrusive igneous rocks chemically equivalent to basalt. The rocks are plutonic, formed when molten magma is trapped beneath the Earth's surface and cools into a crystalline mass.
The vast majority of the Earth's surface is underlain by gabbro within the oceanic crust, produced by basalt magmatism at mid-ocean ridges.

Gabbro reminds me of the kind of image you can create with trace monoprint and some of the granite textures look like wild etchings (probably with quite a lot of open bite...that's a note for any printmakers out there!).

I also looked at the impressive museum collection and read the explanations to better understand the whole story of the Silurian seabed. Had a look through some of the rock and fossil collection and photographed some things.

Graham (Geologist) was really busy and it was an unexpected bonus to witness him look at the rock that some members of the public brought in for identification.
I'm not sure if my pics were saved ok onto the laptop... need to find out!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Visit to Wren's Nest Wed 8 April

Revisted Wren's Nest today. It was early on a bright and windy day. Saw a man walking his pit bull - didn't engage in conversation.

I was thinking about the fossils and seabed and the ideas and images I was discussing with Jane yesterday. John had never seen the ripple beds before and was suitably impressed. Took my Fuji SLR and got much better photos.

closer to see the detail

Ripple beds and fossils. Collaboration with Jane

I tried out some ideas yesterday, drawing on True Grain drafting film. I'm considering drawings of fossils on one sheet of film and either a photo or drawing of the ripple beds on the other sheet. I'd then transfer them photographically onto film laminated copper plates, ink them separately (probably in different coloured inks) and print them one over the other onto the paper.

I was working on this when Jane arrived. We discussed our group trip to Wren's Nest with Graham and the moment when he held the fossils in his hand. Jane photographed this and she had the idea of the hand bringing the fossils to life so that they turn into the sea creatures that lived millions of years ago. A great idea for an image.

Also, these are the very fossils that Graham handed to me on that day and that I have been drawing. So it's all coming together...I'll do further research at the museum tomorrow and carry on drawing.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Rock - I love it

The last time I focussed so much on thoughts of rock was when I was in the USA in 2007 and was amazed by the Canyon de Chelly, the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. The petroglyphs (ancient rock art) inspired a set of prints on rock art.


From the sketchbook

Looking at my sketchbook

I've been looking in my sketchook at the notes and scribbles made at Wren's Nest. I also emptied my pocket and examined and drew the fossils while wondering what kind of print to make.

Looking at my sketchbook

I've been looking back at my sketchbook revieviewing the notes and scribbles. I also emptied my pocket and looked at the small fossils I brought back from Wren's Nest. When drawing them I've been wondering what kind of print I might make.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Imagetextimage Group at Wren's Nest, Dudley

Imagetextimage formed as a group of visual artists and poets in 2004 as a result of myself and poet Emma Purshouse's collaboration to produce a poem and etching on the theme of 'Tarra a bit". The group have been working together for 5 years now in a unique way, taking inspiration from each other's work to create new poems and visual art.

The line up of visual artists and poets has changed a little in the last 5 years and the current members are:

Poets: Emma Purshouse, Jane Seabourne and Dave Finchett.

Visual artists: Linda Nevill, John Hampton, Rosalind Glover, Rob McGuinness, Justin Nicholson, Colin Derricott.

Treasurer: Liz Finchett

Graham Worton, Borough Geologist at Wren's Nest

What good luck that Emma (Purshouse) worked with Graham on the Wrosne Project as this has led to the Imagetextimage group working together to create work for the Dudley Rock and Fossil
Festival (Sept 19 2009).

Rocks and fossils at Wren's Nest, Dudley


I had a really interesting visit to Wren's Nest, Dudley today (see link below) to look at rocks and fossils. Just my idea of a great morning.

It's the start of the Imagetextimage group's new project and we will be collaborating to create images and poetry on a geological theme for Dudley's Rock and Fossil Festival 19th September 2009.

I did some sketching and took some notes and photos. Ideas are just forming as to how I might tackle the project.