AUB Print-making studio 2017

When I decided to explore the art of printing I was lucky to have AUB (Arts University Bournemouth) on my doorstep.  The luck didn’t stop there as I realised I would be learning a variety of print processes from some amazing printers in a very well appointed print studio.

The printing presses are impressively sturdy with a magical history caught up in the wheels and levers.  Around the walls of the studio are various prints and on the drying wracks the work of the day students.  Every piece displaying  a unique response to the same materials.  Inspiration came hard and fast as I immersed myself in the history of printing and discovered people like Lee Krasner, Hu Yichuan, Sybil Andrews and Vincent Longo’s Etchings – ‘Four’ (1969) and ‘Centred: Radiating’ (1964).

Lee Krasner was my standout influencer with her dynamism unleashed, exploring movement and intention before the quantum mechanics of particle physics gave birth to Quarks and Bosons.  Vincent Longo took me through and between into space etched through time.  Evocations to venture into the Beyond of more than the here and now of this flat/curved Earth of no fixed abode.  Twirling on a whim at the pleasure of the here and now of nowhere never known/no one for long enough to be known.

Behind every image was a process and I wanted to know as much as I could.  Raw woodblock prints like Hu Yichuan’s ‘To The Front’ (1932) brought a tear – bold, defiant, full of the emotional force of struggle.   Movement bursting with passion filling the space with intent reshowing the medullary rays and growth rings.

Longo’s 1954 Woodcut ‘Imago’ uses a plank of pine with a long gash as the force exuding out through the living experience of the tree into the living experience of the plank.  Becoming the ‘Imago’, full of life affirming potential to displace space and time into exerting one’s own expression of existence via communicating with the pure life force itself.

Describing this work Vincent Longo uses terms like ‘primordial’, ‘autonomous nature’, ‘emanate-involuntarily from some preconscious source’.

Concrete might not be the first material that comes to mind but the forces of nature Longo and Krasner are expressing for me are there in ’Tecelar’ the 1956 work of Brazilian Concretist Lygia Pape.

Along my path of exploring print I found the work of Vija Clemins and again another well of inspiration to draw upon.  ‘Desert’ (1975) & ’Starfield’ (2010) speak to me of someone who takes time to get to know the kind of things that take time to get know.

silk screen at AUB
silk screen at Arts University Bournemouth

Many evenings I would return from the 3 hour class only to stay up until well past midnight working on the myriad of new ideas that had come from the session.  Passing the familiar squeegees by the door each week ready for the next project to squeeze through the silk screen mesh onto some waiting paper.

The library at AUB held the Holy Grail, photocopy machines that could do way more than the last lot I had played with back in the 80’s when I had fun with fanzines – low tech cutting and pasting with real paper and glue.  I had one question for the helpful librarian, “Where’s the manual?”  Once I had that and a well credited copier card I was free to experiment for as long as the copier could keep up the pace.

Warm lino like soft butter allowing the scalpel blade to flow freely.

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