Now more than ever we have a responsibility to reduce the impact our human activities have on the environment. It is integral to my practice as a professional artist to be as fully informed as possible about the ecological impact of the materials and processes I choose to use.
In exactly one month’s time, I will be touching down in Mexico to begin a new adventure exploring materials and processes and the ecological impact they may have. As a process-led artist working in silk screen printmaking, I will specifically be looking at sustainable sourcing and the ecological impact of current materials and studio models both in the UK and in Mexico.
As Mexico has a rich history in the use of natural pigments in its ancient civilizations, I will use this opportunity to visit the collections of artifacts at the National Anthropological Museum in Mexico City and in Xalapa. So, if you have any artist or curator contacts over there – please do put me in touch!
I am stepping out of my comfort zone for this period of research with the invaluable support of a professional development bursary from a-n. It is about sharing best practice and experimenting so I welcome your comments and suggestions and look forward to charting my progress through this blog.
Thanks to Screen Stretch Ltd and Daler Rowney for their kind support.
I will be talking about my experience of setting up a DIY screen print studio at La Ceiba Gráfica, visits to other printmaking studios and exhibiting in Mexico City on 26th October 2017. All Welcome.
After the talk, there will be a chance to have a guided tour of the work on display in the corridor Reel Cases #1-9 and Bower Ashton Library. (see map below)
Talk: 12.30pm 26th October 2017, Room 0B16, UWE Bower Ashton.
Exhibition: 16th Oct – 12 Nov 2017 in the Reel Cases and Bower Ashton Library.
Remember how I said it was about sustainability? How I wanted to become more aware of my materials and where they came from?
Well, it all got a little exotic, but it has always been on the agenda to explore colours we can make from plants here in the UK and so I found myself in my first week back home returning to visit Anna in her Dyers Garden at the Schumacher College in Dartington, Devon… and we had inspired others to join us for a weekend of sharing dye recipes and stirring bubbling pots of witchy brews!
I have been so fortunate to be offered the gallery space at La Buena Estrella, a printmaking collective in Mexico City, to show the results of my research, the explorations I made during my residency at La Ceiba Gráfica in Coatepec. ¡Muchísimos Gracias amigos!
A personal first to have an international solo show, but also to work with a curator who diligently learnt about the background to my visual art practice and worked with me to design the show. My heartful thanks toYunuén Sariego for all your support and hard work, writing a great text and making it into a professional show.
And so, with this print (above) I brought together the objectives I set myself for this period of experiential learning. It is a multi-colour photo stencil exposed in my DIY screen printing studio, harnessing the UV in the Mexican sunshine. I used indigo and cochineal for the blue and purple respectively, with the orange scribble printed in one of the Oaxacan earths – all bound to the page with gum guar, which turned out to be my preferred gel consistency.
The imagery itself is from a flakey wall with chalk scribble from the many that caught my eye and that I captured for more prints of this ilk, linking back to where I left my visual practice before I jetted off on this tangent of an adventure!
Armed with bundles of dried plants and bags of bugs from that serendipitous workshop on arriving in Mexico City, I hit the local market in Coatepec, where I was surprised how difficult something like achiote, that is used on an everyday basis is to find in its raw form. Other things like brazilwood and marigold (out of season in July… think Day of the Dead, when all the ‘oferendas’ are decorated with these iconic flowers;) I needed to look for in the medicinal herb stalls.
Marco, the Moku Hanga tutor also introduced me to a fabulous book by Leticia Arroyo Oritz all about natural pigments used by indigenous peoples in Mexico.
And so, here I will share will you some of my research into a few of the plethora of plants that yield such a broad range of colours for us artists to exploit.