I’ve recently shown my series of Geological prints on Instagram after not really looking at them for a while. I thought you might like to know a bit more about them…
The prints came about after an odd series of conversations that ended up with my becoming the custodian of a very large collection of maps that, without my intervention, would have ended up in a skip. Endless out of date OS maps, fascinating large scale maps of the Bristol area, the odd map showing land use in Africa, and quite a few of the most wonderful, subtly coloured geological maps. It took me about a year of thinking before I came up with a way to use these geological maps as inspiration for my prints – when something is so beautiful in its own right, it becomes somewhat intimidating.
These circles are simplifications of the maps and the colours found upon them. I abstracted the main areas of colour from within a chosen circle (each colour on a geological map represents a type, or age, of rock), and printed that shape in the appropriate colour. As the shapes on the map are so amorphous, when you turn them into geometric shapes, you create many areas of overlap. As the inks I use are so translucent, this meant where the colours were printed over each other, new colours were formed, and the resulting image diverged from the colour scheme of the original map.
When I was planning each print, the process seemed very logical and precise to me. But now, looking back at my sketchbooks, I find it hard to follow my own logic – I realise that I must do more planning in my head than I thought! Still, even if they don’t make total sense, here are some of my sketchbook pages. They show planning and preparation for my South London, Bath, Bristol, Lizzard and Brighton prints.
Subtle colours collected on my walk from Eastbourne Pier to Holywell.
The bottom of this flask is filled with chalk that was collected as either small rounded chalk pebbles, or chunks of chalk that had broken off much larger boulders. I crushed the pieces in a pestle and mortar to make the powdered chalk. Some pieces crumbled almost instantly, others put up an almighty fight.
From left to right – Eastbourne sand from the middle of the beach, and then near the shore line, different coloured chalks from the cliffs, and shell sand from just past Holywell.
I was in Eastbourne last weekend for the Ink Paper + Print Fair at the Towner Gallery. It was so funny, I have an almost non-existent visual memory, but as soon as I sat on the pebbles of Eastbourne, it was like saying hello to old friends. Many moon ago I did my degree at Brighton and spent an inordinate amount of time sitting on the beach sorting through the pebbles. And here they were again in all their mixed colours and flinty wonder, so different from the smooth banded grey rocks I have got used to in the West.
Before driving back to Bristol on the Monday morning, I treated myself to a walk west along the beach as far as the cliffs at Holywell. The colours changed as I walked, the oranges disapearing, being replaced by greys, which in their turn were out numbered by white. The pebbles underfoot eventually becoming dinosaur eggs of rounded chalk which hardly made a sound as you walked over them. The white cliffs were multi-tonal, beautiful to look at.
The time I thought would never come is almost here! A bit more polishing and I will have a final version of my light up pebble. Depending on which orientation you hold him in, he can display 6 different light patterns. Due to my aversion to flashing lights, all his transitions are quite slow and subtle, so you have to take your time, hold him steady and let him settle if you want to see a new pattern – this is not a pebble to be rushed. My favourite is when you hold him upside down, he pulses with light at approximately the same speed as my heart rate.
Below you can see the electronics built by Laurence to make pebble work, along with a flow diagram explaining the different light patterns.
Thank you to all who came and saw our show at Centrespace and gave us such fantastic feedback, and thank you to Ruth for being such a joy to show with!
It has been such a boost to talk to people about my work, and for them to understand and appreciate what I am talking about, and not think that I am round the twist for loving maps and wanting to make concrete pebbles. I don’t think I had appreciated just how valuable the experience of getting work out of my studio space and onto walls where it can be seen and commented on was going to be. I will do it again (but not until I have had a good long while to recover).
I’m alternating between excitement and terror about the fact that in two weeks I will be putting up a joint exhibition with Ruth Broadway at Centrespace.
I’m out of my comfort zone – it will be the first time that I have shown a large number of my geological screenprints all together and I am hoping to get my work to a whole new audience.
The private view is from 6.30 to 9pm on Thursday 27th April at Centrespace Gallery. Everyone is welcome, the more the merrier – especially if you have a thing for maps, rocks, museums, colour, or just a glass of wine and a chat.
Along with Jilly Morris and Ruth Piper, I am currently organising an exhibition of drawing and print at Centrespace Gallery. I will be exhibiting three of my ‘Geological Series’ screen prints, one of which has made its way onto the poster…