I have now undertaken a session of 1:1 tuition with an expert printmaker, Martyn Grimmer, at Spike Island. While this is about a transmission of skills, I think I should also explain the embodied knowledge that was part of it and is part of the reason I wanted to work in this way.
Martyn also taught my mother. She was an artist who used a lot of print in her work. Most of my work is about using my body as a tool, exploring the idea of being the end of the line….recognising that it’s a repository of family feeling and knowledge and history. So it seemed incredibly vital that I was able to learn this in this particular way. I should say perhaps, that I also did a workshop a few years ago in something similar, and without that connection, that feeling of belonging to a lineage, it didn’t really ‘land’ with me at all. I just found it a bit unsatisfying.
With this time….I can tell you it was really great to learn how to ink up a plate I had made from a photograph, I can tell you about ink warming on the hotplate, I can tell you about ‘paper fingers’ to stop you getting ink on the paper, I can tell you that the print looked pretty good. I can tell you I won’t be using a laser-print to generate my initial drawing because I’ll get a rubbish half-tone you can see under a lupe if you look really hard. I can tell you that my paper seemed to have lost half it’s size because of the way I’d stored it. I can tell you it demystified the process, which is kind of good, kind of bad, because everyone likes a bit of magic.
But in the end, it just was actually just that – magic. Because really, what my work is about – is yearning. I’d been yearning to make a mark, yearning to use my mum’s press, yearning to connect. There’s the process of learning a skill – which I did – and the process of connection.
That’s the bit that I really learned something about.
I went back to get the print yesterday after it had properly dried… Again, it’s hard to share this at this stage because it’s meant to be a ‘surprise’. But I was extremely pleased with it. There’s a bit which is absolutely sublime.
Side-note. I have been having a lot of conversations with another artist friend about using mediums not your ‘home’ medium. Who gives you permission? Because no one is in charge. I’ve long been wanting to do this. Its been knocking on my internal door for so long I almost can’t bear it, its so loud. The bursary – it has been really important.it shouldn’t be ‘validation’, but it sort of is…I find the labels of art-making very frustrating, because really ‘Artist’ should suffice. And some of the things I’m working out about this is through trying things out with other mediums.