Making art should be fun and there should be a playful element – no restrictions, few expectations, open experimentation. I decided to cut up some of the engravings and create collages (well, technically montages as no glue was involved), I positioned the various cut up prints and photographed them.

What I discovered was that the simpler compositions were the most powerful: a contrast of forms (intricate, busy and detailed next to empty and simple) and dark next to light.

Back in the day, I said goodbye to my pictorial crutch: horizons, which easily enabled a contrast between light and dark (symbolic for me, more on that in another post). My tutor at the time (Chris Orr at the RCA), told me that if I abandoned the sky/land format, my zooms of nature could retain the light/dark element and be even stronger – all I had to do was look for that contrast in the all-over surface of marks and textures. He was right, of course. The challenge is always there and I’m always pushing myself, and the work, to find that contrast and balance in my images.

The new series of compositions based on the collages will be painted on one metre square canvases, textures made with carborundum grit, glue and gesso and in a circular format. Each one will include a fluorescent flat colour which will contrast with the more muted colour of the texture.


Printing the engravings has revealed many new possibilities. The quality of the engraved lines is extraordinary, very much like a drypoint, with the ink not only collecting in the intaglio cut, but in the burr of the aluminium resulting a beautiful soft, velvety line. I also added drypoint to enrich the contrast of line quality.

The ‘happy accidents’ (the thing that inspires me most about printmaking) occur most when printing with two plates, the first being a pseudo aquatint created by applying caustic soda to specific areas of the aluminium. I inked this up in a colour: pink, yellow, teal… and then printed the second darker engraved plate on top. So many unexpected surfaces and ink juxtapositions evolved – and far more exciting than had I planned them.

Since making proofs, I have editioned the plates ready for exhibiting.

I recently acquired a book on the textile designer Tibor Reich, he was big in the 50s and his company, Tibor, is still going; he took mundane photos of close-ups of nature (mud, bark etc.) and repeated them to create beautiful designs – familiar territory for me, inspirational all the same. I decided to play with mirroring my prints digitally, unexpected images appeared which worked well on many levels: powerful forms when viewed from a distance and when viewed close up, intricate patterns and shapes reminiscent of Boschian creatures and flora.

It has been a year since I first made the photos of my blood cells and the period of time for me to ruminate and live with the images has been important: to reduce the risk of them being merely illustrations, they needed to not only be distanced from their origin as photos of cells, but needed to take on a life of their own, developing through the creative process.

I am now starting a series of large engravings (80cm by 140cm) inspired by the mirrored prints. The larger scale will give me much more scope for ‘happy accidents’ and will hopefully result in more powerful and exciting work.