Exhibition: Age of Enlightenment: Wood engravings of Hilary Paynter: Riverside Gallery, Devon Guild of Craftsmen. 19th June 2016 


This exhibition explores the theme age and ageing. Notes attached.

Although the artist’s work is largely illustrative it was useful to look at her wood engravings and also how she has approached the subject. Some prints I found particularly moving like “Old School Reunion” which showed images of classmates drawn from photos with crosses over the ones who have since passed away.

Also in the print: “A piece is missing” which detailed an image of a woman with a jigsaw piece removed where the brain is located -referencing the effects of dementia/ Alzymers.

She also focussed on the brighter side of ageing in her biker and “Glad to Be Grey” series which were much more light-hearted and showed the artist’s sense of humour.

I did come away thinking I would like to try the technique but after investigating the cost of the fine tools and boxwood needed I thought against it. 


Tutor feedback – Assignment 3

I was pleased with the comments received from my tutor for assignment 3, it is good to know that I am moving in the right direction. I have focused this post on areas where development is needed:

  • Find more of a narrative to link my subjects together.
  • Be careful when cropping off the top of a portrait
  • Ensure there is enough border around my prints
  • Be careful on colour choice – the green ink on the boat was a bit too bold when considered against the Nan Think about presenting work that all hangs together harmoniously.
  • The misaligned version is interesting and my tutor agreed that it was worth pursuing in future – something that I will do when I return to relief in assignment 5.
  • Also revisit the experimental mark-making test sheet to explore using text and to exploit the tendencies of the lino to crumble and crack when overheated.
  • When come to present the Nan series – mount together with window mounts.
  • No Need to redo statement of intent – just update as and when required.
  • Add images into bibliography and use separate headings for books, articles, websites etc.

Statement of Intent (update)

My aim is to re-use the same premise of Loss, absence and presence as a basis for this part of the course.

As a subject I intend to use a found dead yellowhammer as the starting point.


 Critical Theory


Further reading around the subject led me to Derrida’s essay “What Is Ideology” from Spectres of Marx.

In this particular work he is discussing the ghosts that Marx continually refers to within his work ‘Capital’, i.e. the cultural and historical references that are part of the objects / art forms that we are surrounded by in everyday life. Within this text Derrida uses the word ‘hauntology’ for the first time. The side table to which Derrida refers to here is a reference to Marx’s use of that object as a metaphor within his earlier work:

“The commodity-form, to be sure, is not use-value, we must grant this to Marx and take account of the analytic power this distinction gives us. But if the commodity-form is not, presently, use-value, and even if it is not actually present, it affects in advance the use-value of the wooden table. It affects and bereaves in advance, like the ghost it will become, but this is precisely where haunting begins. And its time, and the untimeliness of its present, of its being “out of joint”. To haunt does not mean to be present, and it is necessary to introduce haunting into the very construction of a concept. Of every concept, beginning with the concepts of being and time. That is what we would be calling here hauntology. Ontology opposes it only in a movement of exorcism. Ontology is a conjuration. (Derrida, 1994.12)

Here, Derrida is questioning Marx’s (and other philosophers) approach to time as a rigid, linear spectrum. He is stating that we / an object / an artwork can be haunted by a future yet to pass as much as by our past. Later on in his writing he clarifies this point further, in regard with the virtual worlds that exist within contemporary life:

“It obliges us more than ever to think the virtualisation of space and time, the possibility of virtual events whose movement and speed prohibit us more and more than ever (more and otherwise than ever, for this is not absolutely and thoroughly new) from opposing presence to its representation, “real time” to “deferred time”, effectivity to its simulacrum, the living to the non-living, in short, the living-dead of its ghosts” (Derrida, 1994.20)

We currently live in a world where it is hard to fathom what is real or unreal- a ghost; this ephemerality is very much a part of our existence today…even more-so in the twenty-first century twenty year after Derrida wrote these words originally.

In his closing words, Derrida concludes that hauntology is pretty much a given, an inescapable truth and ghosts permeate all aspects of our world and times:

“they are always there, spectres, even if they do not exist, even if they are no longer, even if they are not yet. They give us to rethink the “there” as soon as we open our mouths, even at a colloquium and especially when one speaks there in a foreign language” (Derrida, 1994.26)

Deep Ecology

Considering the yellowhammer which has recently been in decline as a species within the UK, I am also interested in the wider environmental issues relating to the natural world and how mankind can impact upon it.

Research into this area has led to the idea around ‘Deep Ecology’ which was pioneered by the Norweigen philosopher Arne Naess, who believed that the world is in ecological crisis. He developed a theory asking for a fundamental shift in thinking within human civilisation, as the rapid growth of human population and excessive consumption within the western world is unsustainable and negatively affecting other life forms, which we should learn to repect and understand how vital they are for the world to function as a whole. The outlook is bleak:

“Without changes in basic values and practices, we will destroy the diversity and beauty in the world and its ability to support diverse human cultures.” (Drengson s.d.)

Techniques & processes

  •  Collagraph methods as per course instructions
  • Limited subtle / monochrome palette in an attempt to convey a mood and atmosphere of loss / melancholy/ fading.
  • Blind embossing – which can be used to demonstrate the idea of absence and material presence.
  • Explore use of negative space.
  • Continue using text within the work as an important element – linking with literary sources.
  • Try using carborundum – which can provide very strong darks and leave a very physical embossed mark on the paper.


Derida, J (1994) What is Ideology from Spectres of Marx [online] At: www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/derrida-what-is-ideology.html Accessed on 20th June 2016.

Drengson, A (s.d.) Some Thought on the Deep Ecology Movement [online] At: www.deepecology.org/deepecology.html Accessed on 20th June 2016.

Interrogating Landcape, Materials & the Figure- Dorset Visual Arts: Exhibition and Talk. 4th June 2016

Dorset visual arts is a not for profit charity which has 500 artist members within Dorset. They run a number of projects designed to aid networking and collaboration for their members. As part of Dorset Art weeks they held exhibition and talk at Bridport Arts centre. I decided to go along to find out more about the work of practising artists in the area.

I made notes from the afternoon in my small sketchbook (attached)

One artist that I particularly want to mention is Katy Shepherd, who works with ideas around loss and memory, which are themes that have started to arise in my own work. 

The drawings she had on display were Ines she carried out on the 20th anniversary of her mother’s death. She used no photographic references for these works. She described the whole process which she said was not easy both emotionally and technically.

She drew her as she remembered her the last time she saw her. She said she is not sure she managed to draw her at all; that she was struggling through the journey of trying to remember her as she was.

Obviously I cannot comment on whether she managed to achieve a likeness but I found the portraits remarkable in their execution. The marks were sensitively drawn reflective of the poignancy of the process the artist was undertaking.

Katy also showed an animation called “Harbour”, which she produced at college in 1999. A clip of this work can be found here: http://katyshepherd.co.uk/animations/harbour/

She explained that this was one of a series of works animating family photos- an attempt to bring the moment back to life. She explained her process that it took ages- that it is a laborious thing trying to bring a still image back to life.

I felt a particular affinity to Katy’s work as the themes she explores resonate strongly in me. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon. It makes me realise how many wonderful artists live locally and has made me think that I will join the group upon graduation, when I am completely aware of my own voice and have confidence in my own artistic practice. It is an exciting prospect.