For this next attempt I was considering my tutor’s comments about narrative from her feedback to my last assignment. I wanted to tell the story of the yellowhammer’s decline in a different way.
I had recently been reading about the history of printmaking with its strong links to communicating social protest and political messages. I had come across the ‘Poster Workshop’ a group from the late 1960s who produced many protest posters. I can feel the anger and angst in their works. The messages are blatant and in your face. As a contrast I looked at some posters produced by contemporary graphic designers who are more subtle and ambiguous in their approach.
Text seems to be becoming an important element in my work so I wanted to include some here, but I didn’t want it to appear too obvious or aggressive. I started having a play with different words in my sketchbook.
Poetry too is of influence and I recently came across this poem, ‘Silence’ by E.E. Cummings. It interested me how the poet is very visual in his approach, playing with the format of the text to create aesthetic value. The ambiguity of meaning and the continuing references to silence versus voice within the text feel very relevant to my theme of absence vs. presence.
After reading some of Derrida’s critical theory surrounding deconstruction I am drawn to these ideas of depicting two oppositional forces at once. I considered what I was trying to convey in this piece:
absence vs. presence
silence vs. voice
intensity vs space
In continuing to research posters I remembered Peter Doig had produced a number of ‘movie posters’ which advertised different films for his studio film club. I find the atmosphere of Doig’s paintings particularly appealing but also Iwas struck by the idea of presenting my piece in a similar vein. Considering the meanings above alongside this context I came up with “The Intensive Void” which I feel conveys a sense of drama and narrative.
From this title I came up with a few alternatives but found the image of a bleak field was the most relevant.
This reminded me of the works of fields by Anselm Kiefer. In these he used a limited subtle palette which worked to create a bleak and haunted atmosphere. Kiefer draws upon historical and political references in his work. The idea for these relating to the period after the 2nd world war when Henry Morgenthau Jr, recommended that Germany be ‘demilitarised and deindustrialised’ (Gayford, 2014).
The plate was made using the back of an old painting that had been produced on canvas board cut to A3 size. I drew the field shape and added text on printer paper (remembering to glue it down back-to-front); pieces of masking and parcel tape were also used, alongside wood glue and sand, plus I scored into the board in some areas.
To print I used 2 rollers: soft for blue ink and hard with black. I liked how the sand did not take the ink in places at the top of the image. I felt that this added to a distressed look reminiscent of disintegrating movie film. These textures all worked together to produce atmosphere: an intensity whilst still appearing bleak, which is what I was trying to convey.
What worked well?
- The broad range of contextual research: posters, paintings and poetry have informed my process well and come together to produce an interesting outcome.
- Using only thin surface materials of a relatively similar height have created a good range of textures.
- The sand is a contrast which adds to a sense of decay / deterioration.
- Printing in two colours with differing rollers adds to a mood / atmosphere.
What was challenging / didn’t work so well?
- I found cutting the text out to be quite a fiddly process.
- For some reason I used masking tape on three sides and not the fourth so the border is not consistent around the edge.
- I would like to carry on this theme using the poem but also with the representations of the bird in a smaller format, printed in intaglio.
Gayford, M (2014) Anselm’s Alchemy [online] at: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/anselms-alchemy (Accessed: 14th June 2016)