Overview and assessment
Note – the collages themselves are more interesting texturally and tonally than the photographs here can show. The wrinkles in the tissue paper in collage 1 are also less evident. The crow on ‘Fall of Crow’ is still to be fixed down when I work out the best glue for this fragile paper.
This image series continues the theme of Arcadia, but takes the idea of narrative further linked to the video game: Dreamfall and Australian Aboriginal mythology of The Dreamtime. But the narrative was very much driven by the printmaking process and the way the collagraph prints turned out. In the heat of the heatwave and given the textural nature of the collagraph plate it was not always possible to predict what would print, where the ink would dry fastest and how the textures would work. The plate was also quite fragile despite three coats of shellac and so I removed ink through doing multiple prints rather than cleaning. Then collaged the parts of the prints I liked onto a backing of card.
In general I am pleased with the aesthetic, particularly images 2 and 3. But I need more experience with cutting and collage to give a more professional finish. I would also like to take the project further with a more explicit narrative and different plates for each.
The design originated in photo screen print experiments based on one of the photos of the Cambridge Grand Arcade from Project 5.1. The process used is described in Screenprinting. When rotated and inverted and overlaid these produces some very interesting images : temples, fields.
From these I started exploring the idea of ‘Arcadia’ for an imaginative collaged monotype – see digital experiments below.
As I searched further on the Internet about the idea of Arcadia I found it has also been a common element in modern Science Fiction and Computer Games. During a Google search on ‘Arcadia’ and further research from the Wikipedia page Arcadia I came across Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. This Norwegian game conceived by Ragnar Tornquist. takes place in the parallel universes of Arcadia as the primordial original world representing fantasy, dreams and magic and Stark, as our world of science and technology. It has a strong female protagonist, April Ryan, an 18-year-old art student living in Stark, identified as a ‘Shifter’ capable of movement between these worlds, and tasked with restoring their essential Balance.
The theme then developed with the printmaking process into a narrative series of A2 prints from a displayboard cut collagraph with carborundum using different colours, papers and collaged elements. These were loosely inspired by Dreamfall and Game of Thrones aesthetic.
Development of the Image
1) Digital experiments
I had originally intended one large A2 monoprint based on the screenprints.
2) Collagraph Plate
I used this as the basis for a collagraph plate using a card cutting and carborundum technique I learned from Charles Shearer at a workshop at Curwen Print Centre.
I traced the image from digital printouts and made the collagraph plate using different depths of cut and filling the deepest cuts with carborundum. I liked the spiky forms in the middle of the image that look like deer or wings that became more pronounced in the tracing removing the colour detail from the digital image.
As I was working on this there was a lot on the news about global warming, forest fires and warnings of global catastrophe. So instead of one image I thought I would try a narrative series of variations from the image as ‘fall from arcadia’ or ‘The Dreaming’ drawing on aboriginal mythology and art I had been looking at in the British Museum as well as Dreamfall. Suggested more by the image I now had than trying to follow any definite story.
The Dreaming 1 : Arcadia
This image was more like the original concept – bright colours with temples, meadows, live creatures. I started with yellow and a mix of Phthalo Green. Then tried adding a little magenta. An interesting discovery was to use water with the caligo inks – this produces a wash effect that looks like wind or clouds. I then started to cut out and collage the different elements together to make the image more interesting and 3-dimensional.
The final image adds some gold on the temple. I originally intended and designed the collage with the temple at the bottom. But then found the top was too stark. Maybe a narrative of the conjoined figures in the gold temple at the bottom moving up through the forest to a bleak future at the top?
I tried the image the other way up and find this more positive as an image with a shrine of gold and happy couple at the top. The collage itself is more texturally interesting and less blotchy than the photographed image below.
The Dreaming 2: Sleepwalk
This second image is influenced by the television coverage of global warming and a creeping pessimism about the future. It uses a darker green print (not shown here) collaged with magenta cartridge and tissue paper prints. Here the deer are fleeing away – empty temple and strong-arm oil refinery and lost people wandering about at the top.
I originally intended this image to have the temple at the bottom is bleaker with its empty temple and the robotic figures at the top. I worked quite hard on little narrative vignettes with the image this way up. I did later consider turning the image upside down to be consistent with the other two images. The effect is more menacing and I like the downward diagonals. But as a series I found having all three images the same way up a bit boring, and I lost the little narrative vignettes.
The Dreaming 3: Fall of Crow
This final image combines Prussian Blue prints of the plate with tissue paper abstracts that I have been collecting from cleaning plates and rollers. I cut through the cartridge paper print into a stencilled image and cut out the crow shape from the more rainbow hosho paper print to put on top.
I then selected parts of the recycling tissue paper prints at the back to make narrative elements.
For the final image I again considered different ways up, and also different positions for the crow. But decided on the final image below because the diagonals are more dynamic and to mirror the first image of Arcadia.