Yesterday, the discovery of collagraph printing – wow. Today, continuing to carve plates at home – portraits to include in my ars moriendi book I hope.
I have selected a group of photographs to work from. My paternal grandmother, my maternal grandparents, my father, husband and daughter. (The loved ones who will feature in my book.) It has been interesting to note the different poses and photographic intentions across the pictures. My maternal grand-mother’s is very formal but beautiful, taken in the mid 1920s (possibly for her 21st?) My Father is extremely formally posed in his air-force uniform c. 1948 and most certainly reflected, with gravitas, through the poignant lens of the regimental photographer – that uncomfortable feeling that this may be the last photo to be taken ….. the one that remains…! My grand-parents pose stiffly but, smiling proudly in their best dress, being photographed at my parents’ wedding in the mid-50s but it is not as disciplined as the previous two. Finally, and contrasting by way of not being professionally shot, a lovely, relaxed, smiling picture of my husband an informal pose in the sense that I called to him and said ‘smile’ and a gorgeous ‘snap’ entirely un-posed, of my daughter enjoying the hilarity of watching her girlfriend trying to learn how to spin plates (in a breeze) at a music festival. My intention, in using this range of pictures, is to reflect ‘passage of time’ and ‘moments captured’ on a genealogical time line that echoes (in human terms) the passage of time in the landscape and biologically, – referenced by the old deeds I am using and the elder tree (I grew and planted) that is a theme for my poem.
The process of cutting the plates is slow but extremely enjoyable – I like the clean, meticulous, methodical activity of it just as a complete contrast to (the equally enjoyable and delightfully messy) freer work we did the other day with mono prints. The plates are things of beauty in themselves. It’s almost a shame to ink them.
Day One. What joy! Find myself in my element. I am quite confident about printmaking and have previous experience of quite a few formal techniques: mono-print, lino, silk-screen, dry-point, Indian wood blocks, and less formal ones like using found surfaces and self made ‘blocks’ … then also, of course, watching Dad (much in mind again!) doing his ‘Bewick’ inspired work in box wood and copper etching and using the letter press. But, today was splendid mainly for the chance to try some new techniques like Japanese wood block. However, more of that later…
First, I began with photocopying and scanning the old deeds for my place – thinking I may overprint on them by way of developing ideas for my ‘Scrap That’ book. These are gorgeous artefacts dating back to 1746 in the reign of George II ? detailing title exchanges and indentures relating to the land which is now my allotment, garden, bit of river, woods and field, until its entry onto the land registry in 1988 as ‘land opposite (my house)’. The use they would have been putting it too of course, would have been prospecting in the mineral seams. I love to imagine the people present at the time the documents were being agreed and the sound of the quills on the parchment as the signatures were being done. The seals and stamps are intriguing. The archaic language is delicious and so are the details like ‘deed being made between such and such, cloggerand the aforementioned other such and suchminer of lead ore…..’. The way they give me a touch of this history is enchanting and it seems appropriate to use them somehow in my ‘legacy’ book.
(Below) I was a bit disappointed in the way the photocopies came out (1.) Far too saturated for my liking and the glossy print quality didn’t take the ink very well. However, printing off the scanned images (2.) produced better results – more akin to the original documents and interesting results produced with mono- printing and mono-type experiments (3.) using words from my poem for the book ( as far as I’ve got it ….) and drawing elder flower/berry motifs.
What a glorious (messy) morning. Then, the p.m. was about Japanese wood block. It took an age to cut the lettering of the poem verse but, no injuries and only one letter that I forgot to reverse … an ‘a’ right in the centre of the block too – (how annoying).