I spent July and August 2018 travelling around Western Australia in a camper van with my husband Laurence. I went to indulge my love of rocks and to revisit the layers and colours I have had stuck in my mind since our last visit nine years ago. I left feeling saturated with colours.
Since we got back I have been struggling to find a way to make work about the landscape we travelled through. The photos I took don’t do justice to the vastness of the landscapes, so how could a print? I didn’t want to make representational work as my brain doesn’t work that way, but more abstract ideas refused to resolve themselves. Several false starts left me disheartened.
In this print I think I have finally found a way to explore my memories of Australia. By focusing in on a specific circle within a photo, I am containing part of that vast landscape, selecting an area to analyse in detail, rather than being overwhelmed by the whole. The colour of the place becomes the all-important subject of the print. I have found a visual language that works to express what I want to say, as well as being challenging to me as a print maker. I hope this is the start of a whole new body of work.
Syntax of a Circle
My starting point is a photo taken just before sunset from the top of a small hill, at Cheela Plains Station camp site, on the way to Karijini National Park.
I chose a circular section of the photo, and a focal point within it (the yellow flowers above right of centre). As this had the potential to be a highly complicated print, I did something I don’t often do, which is to try a mock up on the computer first, just to check it wasn’t going to be another false start.
To create the computer version, I looked carefully at the colours within the photo, and in particular, at the colours that touched the circumference of the circle. I choose the colours that covered the largest areas of circumference, drew a point where they first and last touched on the circle, and used the focal point as the third point to draw a wedge shape. As some of the colours mixed and intermingled within the photo, I ended up with some wedges overlapping. As my inks would be translucent, these would create additional colours.
I received positive reactions; I decided to try it in print. I could have started with a simpler image, but where would be the fun in that?
More precise analysing and planning of my layers followed. What amazes me is that I could look as this photo one day and plan one set of colours, then come back the next day and think that I needed something totally different.
Two afternoons of colour mixing and three days of printing later…
The dots down the side show the 24 different ink colours that I used (some were printed more than once).
The only problem now is that because I had no faith in myself or my idea, I only printed five prints, and everyone has a mistake or flaw of some kind. So if I want to have a edition of this print, it means I have to print it all over again. But actually I think this is no bad thing. I was quite seduced by how the print looked when I had printed about 5 colours. It was very calm and quite minimal, the temptation was to leave it as it was, but then I wouldn’t have known if my idea was worth pursuing. So the fact that the prints had flaws from the very beginning meant that I was less precious about them, I felt that it was OK to keep going to the very end, that if I ruined them by putting a bad colour on it would be justified as they were only a proof of concept. And it worked, and I am happy, and it is OK to print 30 layers all over again, I just hope I don’t run out of any of my colours.