Paper…it is a universe within itself… As handlers of paper we respond to how it feels, looks and responds to our touch, to its weight, by how it moves and how it sounds when it moves, how it bends, and how it can flap about when you animate it, or how serene and beautiful it may look when it hangs from a wall or falls from a book… This list can go on and on. Besides the amazing things that artists can do and say with this fine medium for expression, paper can say a whole lot without having anything said on it.
These are elements I was exploring when I developed the following three book works which were created specifically for a Canadian group exhibition that showed in 2011 called “Bound by Nature, An exhibition inspired by nature, landscape and books,” curated by Canadian artist Deborah Danelley.
With “Memoir, a book of sand” I was interested in exploring texture and containment, light and shadow, and the metaphor of moving through time with the eye travelling across the length of an image, a book. Taking the memory that time places on us and containing it in this form felt like a natural thing to do…
a mark in time…
this is the mark
time places on us
it is a memory
in the sand
The next set of books “Night & Day I” and “Night & Day II” is an example of how papers can speak for themselves…
“Dream Sequence I, L’enchantement de la femme noire”
In this work I was exploring size and the concept of the “unfolding” element of a narrative. I also wanted to feel physically engaged in the handling experience of reading a book with such wide pages…you have to use your whole arm to turn the pages, and I found this very engaging as a reader.
Building a visual narrative is like building a poem. Thematic elements and motifs occur and recur throughout the piece, building up rhythm and harmony. I wanted to retain such a feel with the method of printing and gilding, and so devised a way to apply the gold in the work in the manner of the pochoir method of the forest and dame noire.
This is a question that I ask myself: What is writing? Does the act of writing always have to deal with letters? What if the act of writing dealt with image… We could say that written/drawn letters can become image, but what about the act, the motion of writing becoming the image…After all, writing is a gestural act, and unique to each hand that practices it.
The three works I am showing below are examples of inkless prints – one of the areas I have been working on to which I have been applying the musings above. It is interesting to think of the works below as writing, as they have not been rendered with ink… Within these works, the light casts shadows upon the carved forms, and the shadows act as the ink.
“Just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl” is a traditionally lettered piece inspired by the Roman Cursive style of writing. The letters were rendered in a traditional calligraphic manner, then transferred to a board to be used as a plate for printing. Working on the “empty” space surrounding the letters, acrylic medium was shaped around the edge of the letters, with further detailing applied throughout the plate. The plate work was as much sculpted as it was written.The focus of development for this work was on making the letters clear and legible. To my eye, this piece has a more traditional, classic lettering element.
“Bound by Nature” is another lettered work. Here I was developing some expressive outline letters that relied on impulsive gestural movements to form them. Once transferred to the linoleum, these lively letters were carved with my carving tool into the plate, again, in a gestural manner – much like hand writing. The letters are mostly legible, but somehow they take on a dancing, drawn quality.
“Solitude” is an example of a work that I call a “written image.” While the moon is formed from acrylic medium applied to the lino plate, the carving of the tree image is rendered in strokes that are very much like hand writing. My carving knife has become my pen, and my image my writing. For me, it is like writing a poem, except that in this instance, the image is the poem, and the strokes used to make the image the “letters” that made up that poem.