Saturday, 1 April 2017

Finished the Abbeyleix Residency

Scratching a perspex plate

I finished up in Abbeyleix Further Education and Training Centre this week after a residency lasting just under 3 months. The original plan was to play around with some animation but after the first 2 weeks my laptop closed down and wouldn't turn back on, the timing wasn't a huge issue though because I was due to start working with the Level 5 students as their work experience module started and ran for another 2 weeks.

I really enjoyed the fortnight teaching, I had to write up a brief and the students worked from that. They were very easy to work with and are a really, really strong group technically. The work being produced over the 2 weeks was a high standard and they gave excellent presentations both at the halfway point and at the end of the module. There was also a huge variation in the work across the group, the brief linked to my my own practice in terms of making prop's and using them to create scenes as source material for paintings but some people concentrated on the prop building and refining it to a point where it served as a finished piece without anything else. Other's worked on drawings, paintings, illustration and photography working from the models that they had made. Some of the work can be seen on the Art Department's Instagram

Skull drawing

I started my second month of the residency after the teaching and decided with the laptop gone I was going to try some printmaking. I never really gave it a proper try before, I did a tiny bit of carborundum printing back in first year in Galway and I think maybe monoprint when I was a student in Abbeyleix in 2006. Drypoint was where I started just taking an old sheep skull as a starting point, it was really to try and get use to the process of scratching into the perspex plate. I was kind of happy with the results as a first drypoint print. There were a number  of problems with it, I think on one of the attempts I wiped away too much ink and on the other not enough. I don't think I scratched deep enough into the plate either so I'm not sure if it was able to hold enough ink or not. With these plates only being trials I didn't worry about dampening the paper either, I would do that for the next attempt.

The first 2 drypoint prints

I started a painting back in early January and I wasn't happy with it so the the next drypoint print would be a way of recycling that and I ended up using the remains of the painting itself to test glazes. I actually used a lot of images from previous work just so I could jump right into the process of printing but these test pieces won't ever be exhibited, so aside from social media and my blog they won't be seen beyond rough documentation.

The painting that was the source of some test prints

I started using linocut in the middle of working with the drypoint. I was using the softer blue lino and hacked through it a couple of times so I want to try using the tougher grey lino and hopefully I can avoid cutting through it. Again I used the painting above to start with and the result is below, there were a few issues to iron out too. One was the application of the ink, I applied far too much on the first print, not enough on the next few and I think the last two or three I was happy with. I think with the first couple I probably didn't roll the ink out enough before putting it on the lino. I wanted to just get going with it so it was slightly rushed.

First attempts at linocut

Overall I was happy enough with these first few attempts at the prints. I was trying to make them with a similar aesthetic to my paintings or see if I could, I think this is something I would try to avoid with the linoprints. It might work with the drypoint process. I used stronger paper and dampened it for the piece at the end of this post and felt the result worked out pretty well.

Second attempt, reusing the image of a drawing I had for Birr Arts Festival last year

From here I'm back working on a new body of paintings based on the same them of folklore and mythology, I'm hoping to keep the prints going too. Jackie, Edel and Jock asked if I would work with them to curate the Level 5 artists' graduate show in The Dunamaise Arts Centre. I haven't any exhibitions lined up this year but I have two solo exhibitions scheduled for 2018. I need to just finalize things for one in February that's going to be in Pallas Projects, Dublin and the other is down for April in Birr Arts Centre. I just wanted to say a massive thanks to Jackie Edel and Jock for having me back for the residency and for the chance to work with them and the artists studying in Abbeyleix.

The last drypoint on the residency and a small mark-making sample

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