Looming entanglement II

Looming Entaglement II  –  Steel plate Etching / aquatint  – edition of 20

Commercial fishing practices are a constant threat to sea birds.  Globally, thousands of seabirds are killed in each year when they become hooked or become entangled in commercial fishing nets.   My first etching with aquatint “Looming entanglement II” speaks of this threat to our seabirds. 

I’m still trying to get my head around aquatint and the fact that you are adding the light to create tonal values – working in reverse again  as in many printmaking processes.  This is definately a technique that I want to explore further and after bin diving last week to “rescue” some steel plate – I am excited about creating more etchings using the aquatint method on my newly acquired plates !

looming entanglement

I have finally done my first etching !!    Steel plate etched in Nitric.     Just 3 small test plates – hard ground, soft ground and one experimental plate.    I have a new teacher at college – Blair Waterfield.  He is incredibly passionate about printmaking &  he really gets the class moving and thinking conceptually.   Although our first 3 little plates were just test plates I treated them like they were going to be a framed piece of work.  Sometimes I figure that even though they are merely test plates  I  want to  try  to make something worthy – and because they were  my first etchings, it kind of felt special.   I  am working with the theme of the danger of entanglement  that our seabirds face – entanglement in discarded fishing nets (ghost nets)  and discarded fishing line  from both recreational and commercial fishing practices.  A shocking and  depressing reality.    During my research I came across  many global sites  and community groups that are a voice for our seabirds and marine creatures.   The images on these sites of entangled birds are incredibly disturbing  and I can’t  shake these distressing images from my mind.

Each time I printed the plates, my aim was to try and  print each time in a different way from the previous print.   I made the use of stencils (positive and negative)  different layers,  different wiping techniques and different colours to achieve  30 varying prints.  It was refreshing to work with blue and green ink to reflect the colours of the sea.   I have mostly been working with rust and earthy colours for a while so the blues and greens were like a breath of fresh air.    I knew I was going to cut the little prints out (bleed prints)  so I didn’t have any worries about registration. This felt liberating and I  found that my energy was directed towards experimenting  and creative processes rather than bieng caught up and slowed down with  precise registration.      The resulting work is a collage of about 30 prints that I have had framed and will put into the Bruny Island Bird Festival Art Exhibition. 

Letterpress

I managed to squeeze in some letterpress at college last week to finish off my “50 Words for 50 Birds” piece for the Bruny Island Bird Festival.   Gillbert  is our techy at college and he is incredibly knowlegeable and helpful when it comes to all things print making.   I haven’t done much letter press before and it took a couple of hours to set this little bit of text.  Each letter has to be set individually.  It’s astounding to think that all our newpapers were once printed in this way.   It’s difficult to read upside down and back to front but you get the hang of it after a while  and with the help of sense of touch (there’s  little grooves on the front of each letter)  I found my hands and brain  moving a little quicker  by the time the text was set.

With Gil’s help, I printed my text on this lovely old Vandercook proofing press.