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Of course, there are etchings

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

So far, I've written about paper, collage and books, but not much about what brought me to art school in the first place, which is printmaking. Etchings are central to this project, but I'm using digital collage to compose the creatures that are on this surreal journey towards intimacy. I have always used collage in my prints, combined with the hand-drawn, but I started using hybrid creatures as a metaphor for my own hybridity. I have somewhat of a complicated relationship with my identity - always trying to explain it and not really feeling like I'm entirely understood as to 'what I am', which, I imagine, is a common experience for a lot of people.

Rather than using literal elements that signify an aspect of my identity, I use hybrid creatures as a metaphor for an obscure hybridity that isn't meant to be entirely understood (although, perhaps these creatures may want to be). I began playing around with the dyadic relationship between them just before the pandemic, and when the pandemic hit (and we were all stuck in lockdown), I went further into this exploration of how we dance around trying to connect with one another.

I had started playing with the notion of the exquisite corpse as well, to see if I could develop the idea of 'becoming a part of one another' or sharing a part of oneself. In whatever I'm doing, it always seems to begin with the element of play. I imagine, that if I am experiencing delight in the making of my work, that this might be transmitted to the viewer when they are experiencing it as well.

I began by playing with collages, but I decided to integrate the exquisite corpse aspect of it through the page turning. In my Photoshop playground, I matched the horizontal centers of each creatures so they aligned when the pages turned.

I'm realising, now that I can go a bit further and perhaps quarter the pages and creatures to come up with new hybrids:

After I design each creature, I transfer them to copper plates to be drawn. I won't go through the exhaustive description of preparing the plates, but it's probably worth noting that it is a process that requires time, patience and planning - and which I think is befitting for the concept of intimacy. Nothing can be left for the night before when it comes to printmaking (and sometimes, honestly, I wish this were the case). But what it means is that I need to take great care with the process if I am after a particular result - and especially if I want to avoid unnecessary accidents (although 'happy' accidents are most welcome).

I so far have nine plates in total, but it may not end here:

Thumb for scale:

I was toying with the idea of the miniature at the beginning of the year. I thought, if I could create work that was detailed enough, I could project digital images of them and perhaps present the illusion of these etchings being larger than they actually are. I've always enjoyed integrating some form of illusion in my work, or hidden image - the notion of discovering a secret gives a 'hide-and-seek' quality that feeds into the idea of play and sharing a secret that emotionally intimate experiences often have.

I suppose we all have a 'do not enter' sign on a few doors within us:

And the rest:

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