Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Four Seasons: a collagraph series (Part One - the idea)

Since Easter I have been one of a small group drawn from York Printmakers who have jointly been acting as Artist in Residence at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming. This wonderful place, just a mile or so from my studio, is home to (as you would expect) an extensive collection of farming machinery and equipment through the ages, but also livestock (from bees and ducks to sheep and pigs), the magical Danelaw Viking Village (regularly inhabited by re-enactors or thronging with groups of school children), a small Roman Fort, a Tudor house, a couple of prehistoric round houses and, to round it all off, the Derwent Light Railway.

The Danelaw Viking Village

It is also, conveniently, in the same village as the splendid Hawthorn Printmakers who made my press and who very generously loaned us a smaller version to use during our time at the Museum.

Our base has been a small pod in the middle of the huge barn which houses the Four Seasons Gallery over two floors. With glass walls on either side we have become one of the exhibits as we work at our printmaking. Visitors sometimes venture in to speak to us and ask questions; more peer in curiously from the outside at the strange captive artists. (None have yet banged on the glass but it wouldn't have surprised me if someone did).

The pod has been equipped to recreate the
 natural habitat of the shy and elusive printmaker...

The exhibits in the gallery take the visitor through the farming year, with audio commentary that is triggered by movement sensors as people walk around from season to season. Working in the pod we hear this commentary over and over again. You might think this would drive us mad.... and I must confess I have heard all I want to hear about the development of the plough... but after a while it became reassuringly consistent and the repetition echoed the theme of the gallery: the unchanging and reliable cycle of the farming year, a pattern which has remained largely unaltered down the centuries.

I initially planned a collagraph print of a countryside scene in the colours of autumn and harvest. As I began making the plate, however, I wondered if I could use the same plate to produce an image for each season. The fixed shape and texture of the plate would represent the enduring landscape, while changes to colours would reflect the passage of time through the year.

Creating the collagraph plate
This was an ambitious idea; collagraph plates are fragile and this was asking a lot of one assemblage of card and glue (and indeed I did have a torn tree trunk disaster which needed surgery with pva glue, backing paper and varnish) but I think I pulled it off. (That's a printmaking pun there. I promise if you're a printmaker it's hilarious.)

details of 'Autumn' and 'Spring'
The finished prints will debut at our end-of-residency exhibition at the Museum starting on 15th October 2016. More information here.

Update: there is now a further blog post explaining and demonstrating in greater depth how these collagraph prints were created. You can find it here.

No comments:

Post a comment

I love to hear people's thoughts on this blog, but there may be a short delay before your comment appears publicly. Thanks for your patience.