Earlier this year I was awarded with a residency funded by the Printmakers Council at London Print Studio. I had free access to the studio for 30 sessions over 4 weeks as well as a bursary for travel and materials. I would also get to feature in London Print Studio’s Newsletter and have the opportunity to display work from the project as ‘Featured Artist’ at London Print Studio Gallery.
‘Originating from South Africa, memories and past stimuli have a strong influence on the themes I attempt to encapsulate in my work. My earlier work tends to be relatively complex, not only in the layering technique I employ but also in the choice of my subject matter and how I choose to depict it. My style is inclined to be very illustrative and detailed and sometimes I feel I have the tendency to overwork a design. Currently I am trying to break away from this in an attempt to deconstruct and simplify an idea; to break it down to its core and true essence. I find a ‘less is more’ approach most challenging. I hope to become subtler in my application and have the patience to slow down and gradually build up layers in order to reach the desired effect. I am especially inspired by primitive motifs and mark making and hope to learn from the simplicity in approach and structure I see in these.
This new path is a recent manifestation of my work. I am of the opinion that the residency would be the perfect opportunity to experiment, refine and consolidate my ideas. In addition to the input from London Print Studio and fellow artists, I hope that this period of focus will lead to unexpected results with surprising offshoots.
My hope is to do a body of work called ‘Africanisms’. These will be made up of silhouettes of African objects juxtaposed with their surrounding space. The object is chosen not only for its interesting shape but also for the subconscious symbolism it may conjure. The placement of the shape on the page needs to be dynamic, abstract and alluring. Within the positive and negative areas the mark making must be rich and beguiling. I want to experiment with colours, unusual yet pleasing contrasts. I hope to create work that speaks to all through its form, texture and colour without being obvious. Although, in theory this seems simple – getting these to work in harmony will be the challenge.’
I decided on using paper stencils as the method to create my imagery. In this way I could keep the composition simple and concentrate on the juxtaposition of texture and colour. The layers were made by overlapping shapes and through the gradual building up of the positive and negative areas. I apply the ink to a perspex ‘plate’, lay out my stencils onto the paper and run all through the press. Each time I remove the plate and stencils the result is surprising – it is this magical moment in printing I find so satisfying.
The technical support and the help and guidance from all at London Print studio assisted in the development of my work. In particular I found the input from Darren van der Merwe extremely beneficial. His keen eye and objective criticism helped me look at my work and make positive adjustments.
This experience had an invaluable effect on the development on my work. It allowed for an intense period of concentration on ideas and techniques and the freedom to experiment. I am truly grateful and thank everyone concerned for the opportunity.