Sunday, 24 June 2012


Over the next few posts I'm going to introduce you properly to the three finished etchings which comprised my MA show.

The first of the series is "Wander":

'Wander' Etching 70 x 35 cm

 The series of etchings, as with other sketches I have shown are all from a short path that can be found in the heart of Silk Wood at Westonbirt Arboretum.
While I was preparing the plates for the series I went to a lovely talk given by Dr Suze Adams. She discussed her own work in some depth, she is a warm and fascinating speaker if ever you get a chance to hear her. She also referenced the writing of Edward Casey and in particular the book, “Getting back into Place”. Casey discusses the idea of lingering, tarrying, delaying and wandering linked to stasis and movement. I was inspired by this concept of activity and inactivity linked to the experience of place, and found that it brought a new meaning to my developing prints. The words are so evocative of the emotional investment in walking. I felt I needed to include the words and so used them to inspire the naming of the prints.

This first one is 'Wander' because it is the entrance to the path, an invitation to go for a wander. I think the curve of this path, directed by the lean of the trees draws the visitor into the path ... What is around that corner?

The print is achieved with the use of a lot of open bite mark making, a hint of aquatint and a trace of hard ground line.

I completed a drawing of this same scene before I made the print:

'Entrance to path' Graphite 70 x 35 cm

Its interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two pieces now. Drawing allows me to think through the process of the etching and the composition and emphasis of the print. I purposefully do not trace the drawing but make a free hand translation with sugar lift onto the etching plate to start me off. This way the etching takes on its own life as a new and independent piece of work.

Looking at these works again is making me wonder about the next place - more wandering needed!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Drawing the Zoeschen Maple

The Maple that I chose to draw as one of my Westonbirt Series pieces can be found just off Broad Drive in the Arboretum. I photographed the tree during February and March, in the stark light of winter mornings, when natural structures are clear of any surrounding growth:

I was equally fascinated by the web of shadows cast by the tree as I was by the interlacing spread of branches. The short trunk held a special appeal; such a strong support for this graceful maple.
Fortunately I was able to find quite a broad piece of maple to draw on, and I was able to work out a composition which hinted at the broad reach of the branches.

Once the wood was trimmed - I have a much improved sawing action these days! and sanded I was able to prepare the surface with gesso, ready to draw.

Finding the dominant branches to get the structure correct

Working out the angles of the shadows
Strengthening the tonal qualities, too heavy and solid now, but ready for sandblasting
The finished Zoeschen Maple, softer shadows reaching across the floor to the viewer
and light coming in through the upper branches.
At the final show the pieces drawn on the wood seemed to take the attention of people who appreciated all things natural but also those who had a love of wood. The fact that the natural qualities of the actual pieces of wood were still visible seemed to be as important to them as it had been to me in the drawing.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

MA Print 2012 at UWE

The show is up and the public have been flooding in:

At times it has been difficult to see the work easily...

...a couple of friendly punters, known very well to me, who were kind enough to have a closer look at my work.

My MA show, 'a walk through the wood' seen earlier in the day when it was possible to see 'the wood for the trees'!

The final series of etchings, hanging in sequence left to right, taking the viewer on a walk up a side path in Westonbirt Arboretum. The black labels underneath describe other sensations heard or felt in the area along the walk.

The final series of drawings hanging beside the etchings shows the specimen trees in the vicinity of the path. Listening to comments over the past couple of days the drawings seem to be stealing the show over the prints, with people trying to decide which is thier favourite tree... I'll definitely be pursuing this style of work further.

Selected work from other Print Artists in the MA class of 2012:

John Lynch

Sue Brown

Sarah Barnes

Theo Wood

Jane Sasanow
The degree Shows run until 8pm on Thursday, see you there...!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Show time - nearly...

It has been a frantic few weeks, hence fewer posts, getting the MA show ready. We all spent a few days preparing the space,
Bags of equipment and bags of apprehension at this stage-
how will it all look?
painting the walls, and painting them again, then carefully arranging our finished work.

The final print selection ready for display
The work was assessed last week, another nail biting moment, and we can document our exhibitions this week. Next post I should be able to show tempting photos of the stunning work my friends on the course have made. There is a fabulous range of skills and innovative approaches on show, come along if you can. The show opens on Friday, 8th June at UWE Bower Ashton Campus, 6pm - 9pm. See previous post for more details.