IMPACT Printmaking Journal Spring 2022
Greetings to you all, I hope this finds you safe and well. This month’s postcard comes from Bow Common Lane, where an unassuming tree is displaying both white and pink blossoms at the same time. The pink pompoms were presumably grafted at one point in the past, and appear to co-exist in harmony with the white. It’s a bit of a leap to compare this to collaboration, shared spaces and the sum being greater than the individual alone, but I would like to make the connection, as these are the themes which underpin the five articles in Issue five of the IMPACT Printmaking Journal.
Starting with collaboration, we have an exhibition review written by John K. Grande of the Helen Frankenthaler show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The show brought together several print series by this leading Abstract Expressionist painter; the prints were simply astonishing in terms of size, subtlety and colour. Grande fills in the background to the creation of Frankenthaler’s works, and talks about her collaboration with print studios, rebellious approach to rules, use of painterly language and spatial ambiguity.
Next up, a personal account of collaboration is charted in semi-diaristic form by Matthew Hilton, who recounts his time working alongside lithographic master printer Monsieur Philippe Parage. The close environment, numerous coffee breaks and eloquent silences speak of collaboration as something of an “occult process – a sensitive balance between thought transfer and paranoia”. Those who have experienced the tensions and joys of collaboration will recognize some of Hilton’s wry observations of the process.
Printmaking in the sense of a translation of image from one form to another is taken to the extreme with Enrique Leal’s work. Leal takes photos of clouds and through milling technology renders them in backlit marble. Light penetrating the veined marble takes on a startling sense of airy form, with highlights corresponding to the thinnest areas, yet the illusion is soon destroyed if one were to observe the carved excavations in the weighty stone. Leal uses technology in order to achieve something entirely unexpected.
Curiosity about the unexpected is perhaps what has driven the revival of an obsolete technology by Graciela Machado, Marta Bełkot and Sandra Costa Brás. They investigated a 19C type of printing called Gillotage, a technique that was widely used prior to the invention of photography because it could easily mimic hand-drawn half tones and create type-high relief blocks which could be used alongside letterpress printing. By hunting through old manuals and experimenting with different types of paper and ink, the three researchers used experiential knowledge to understand old processes and what might be usefully adopted into their contemporary art practice.
Last but not least, Paul Coldwell writes with perceptive insight into the ceramics, papercuts, printed works and multimedia installations by British artist Charlotte Hodes. Embracing ornamentation, Hodes’ work transcends the potentially negative connotations of domesticity by virtue of the intelligence and ambition of her work. Her installation, After the Taking of the Tea, involving 250 pieces displays patterns moving from vessel to vessel, vessel to wall, all the while poking fun at the ritual of homemaking and historical convention.
With thanks to the authors for their dedication, and the reviewers for their input.
I hope you enjoy the issue!
London 13 April 2022
The Ceramic Installations and Papercuts of Charlotte Hodes
Professor Paul Coldwell
Helen Frankenthaler – The Incredible Lightness of Beauty
John K. Grande
Collaboration with the Master Printer, Monsieur Philippe Parage
Cumulus Calcite. The Subtractive Rendering of a Photographed Cloud
Gillotage. Exploring a mid-nineteenth century relief printing technique
Graciela Machado, Marta Bełkot and Sandra Costa Brás
Featured image: Cherry Tree on Bow Common Lane. Photo by Wuon-Gean Ho.