Thanks to the a•n professional development bursary I am finally able to spend some valuable time and resources on exploring a fascination that has long hovered around my practice – the materialism of the colonial exploitation of raw materials and their commodification. I have worked with casting sugar in the past, and dabbled in screen printing many years ago, but now I am going to use this opportunity to get some professional training in printing and paper making and to widely experiment with making printing inks from sugar, coffee, tea, cacao etc. The form of work produced will reflect the history and ongoing legacy of the exploitative age of Empire. The image shows an early piece entitled: Canal (from Latin Canna meaning cane), 2017, cacao and coffee on cotton
The second workshop I attended thanks to my a•n professional development funding was a morning learning how to make paper, focusing on bagasse (sugarcane fibre) with professional paper maker and book artist Lucy Baxandall at her studio at Kingsgate Workshops on 12 June. After a wonderfully wet few hours I had some sheets of bagasse paper and the inklings of an idea about how to use this material as a sculptural medium. Using bagasse was a first for Lucy and it took her a lot of time and energy prior to the workshop to reduce the beautifully colourful striped sugar cane I’d bought on Ridley Road market in Dalston to a manageable state for making paper. I leant about making formation aid from okra to help the fibres disperse in water (and this seemed an apt combination with sugarcane) and the importance of the Hollander Beater to grind apart rather than cut the plant fibres. It was a fascinating and inspiring morning and I have now acquired a big box of bagasse fibre with which to continue my experiments.
The first of the workshops I attended thanks to my a•n professional development funding was a two-day deluxe printmaking workshop at Print Club London on 27/28 April. Professionally and entertainingly led by artist/printmaker Craig Keenan, this was an intensive, yet relaxed, introduction to digital screenprinting and resulted in the production of my first print on my handmade cotton paper. After working on our digital images in Photoshop we leant how to prepare and expose our screens ready for printing. I printed on a variety of papers and even wooden board, so gained a good sense of the potential of this technique with more experimental materials.