Contains Art: Collagraphic Monotypes

During the last two weeks I have been working in studio one at Contains Art whilst exhibiting a selection of my archived paintings, drawings and prints, exploring new printmaking techniques. Walking around the area of Watchet, I have been investigating the way the colour of the rocks intermingle and applying these methods into the monotype prints, via a collagraphic style of making using various masking techniques with strips of torn and cut paper on the inked MDF surface.

WATCHET AND WALES | Detail | Sept 2017

These forms of printmaking have followed on from what I was exploring last year, during the Somerset Art Works Creative Pathways Bursary,  using the local rocks along the coastline as pigment.  These had led to the large prints I produced (see below) and during the following October and November of 2016 I responded to ideas about ‘epigenetic memory’, conversing with Dr Marcus Pembrey, investigating how art could be used to reveal hidden memories through the marks an artist makes in response to their emotive response.  The neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris wrote in his book ‘Freewill’ [1] that being mindful and exploring repetitive behaviour we could explore the unconscious, unknown dialogues/ appetites [2] and reveal to our conscious mind: how every descision made is the result of previous unknown causes that have become deterministic in their outcome.

Being aware of these unknown appetites and their subtle influence on our psychology allows us to become aware of the ‘non-self’ – that the idea of the ‘self’ is a self-created illusion and to be fully aware of our ‘truth’ we must first unshackle from delusions espoused by the commercial engine and its propaganda.

SEA OF ROCK | Rock pigments from Watchet, Medium, Norfolk Paper | Framed in Ashed Lime Wood | Sept 2016

These illusions and delusions in no way changes the importance of being human with autonomy and free choice – what these thoughts unpack is the idea that there is more going on in the ‘background coding’ of our minds and the behaviours we exhibit, akin to a symptom.  These could reveal, through the marks or impressions we make through creativity, in the same way one can read a person’s psychology in their handwriting, something ‘truthful’ through the artwork made, through our choices of colour, form, subject and marks.

Epigenetics - Rock Pigment & Industrial Pigments from Watchet - 22 of 24
EPIGENETICS | Rock Pigments from Watchet, Medium, Postcard | Oct/ Nov 2016

These new works explore various ways of making images and come from drawings made by looking at a view via binoculars.  Using this device plays with the idea about what consitutes a seen image and how it might be considered.  Through binoculars our biocular eye-sight has been made into a circular form, shifting the spatial quality.  How does our negotiating mind determine reality now?

watchet and wales 2of5
WATCHET AND WALES | Waterbased Printing Ink, Lacquer, Postcard | Sept 2017

Instead of seeing reality from two slightly different viewpoints, the binocular makes apparent the area of focus, as well as flattening space.
This explores our relationship with lenses and how we use them to view imagery; how we process visual information and become more aware about how we can no longer see the world before lenses and mirrors due to the corruption of images via the photographic idiom.  Even artists like Cezanne, Van Gogh and Monet were probably subtly influenced in some form by the photographic image.
These forms become interpreted flattened spaces of poetical colours and forms – resonating with artists from the past who may have used such devices to project images of light onto their surfaces, saving time, capturing more recognisable forms, usually a portrait or space onto a substrate to fix in paint or inscribed through some other medium … until the advent of chemical photography.

SEVERN | Waterbased Printing Ink, Lacquer, Postcard | Sept 2017

The forms of printing I have been exploring delves into the effect of working with wet layers, pulling back to reveal the previous layer of the printed surface.  This particular idiom of process captures a sense of entropy – peeling layers back to become a symbol of wear and tear, revealing past time as a form of time machine playing with non-linear time.  Present time becoming part of an evolving future time, itself becoming part of a new past time narrative. They explore an obsession with the sense of time and how time and space always moves towards greater entropy. The passage of time and memory – the past, present and future co-existing in the eternal now.

Screenshot (156)
SEVERN| Collagraphic Monotype | Waterbased Printing Ink on Wansborough Brown Paper | Sept 2017

Working on a series of proof prints, using some of the paper created at Wansborough Paper Mill in Watchet,  now been archived by Contains Art, for me has become a symbol of the marketplace and economy.  I have been layering colours inspired from the River Severn, as I take inspiration from Zen painting and Japanese printmaking through the use of waterbased inks and forming gradients of colour.
The image above is pulled from the surface left after it has been used to form the main prints, capturing the marks left behind from the printing process. It is now a ghost image captured on this paper – an archive capturing the last remnants of those marks before being erased with something new.

The image appears to resonate with Modernism, Impressionism and the paintings of Rothko.  All three symbolically representing something unintended at its point of production.

Modernism: An art disregarding, in some ways, the art of the past

Impressionism: Modernist art disregarding the art of its time and capturing those fleeting moments of memory, time, light and shifting kaleidoscope of colours

Rothko: Seeking to capture the essence of a lost spiritual sense of life through colour – the melancholy of societies recovering from two World Wars and subsequent post-traumatic stress endured by all those affected.

An impressionist residue of colours and marks waiting to be lifted from the surface and become something more than it once was.

poster - open studio - net

[Third Edit: 16th Sept 2017]

Further Reading

[1] Sam Harris, Freewill, (NEW YORK: Free Press, 2012) <> [Accessed 10th Sept 2017]

[2] Jacques Ranciere, The Emancipated Spectator (LONDON: Verso, 2009)

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