5: Memory

Part 5 uses memory and imagination to  explore  the potential of textures and collage and experimental combination techniques.

The three series of prints are based loosely around themes and designs suggested by the Grand Arcade in Cambridge. From an exploration of the nature of memories in Project 5.1, things started to connect in Project 5.2 to the concept of ‘Arcadia’ as an imaginary and unattainable fantasy world promised by advertising and escapism from harsh realities. The final prints in Assignment 5 The Dreaming took this further from Arcadia sleepwalking to a dystopian future  – influenced by video games and current television coverage of worries about global warming.

The series explore not only ‘memories’ and imagination, but ways in which printmaking and ‘art’  as learning, research and reflection processes themselves in turn shape perceptions and memories. In particular, contrasts and complementarities between photography, collage, digital techniques and printmaking.

Project 5.1 A print from Memory: Grand Arcade: Memories revisited

In this first project I make substantial use of collage and digitally manipulated photographs underpinned with the structure of a linocut print inspired by the Vorticists and Escher. It looks at mixed media image-making as a way of exploring rather than controlling/clearly communicating the jumble of flashes of memory, personal reactions and emotions in the present. The alienation and disorientation of the underlying linocut is made more ‘real’ and human through the use of photographs. Superimposition of digital manipulation at different points highlights the fantasy nature of memories. Collage enables exploration of linkages, contrasts and unexpected associations between memory flashes from different times and introduces a more playful approach to deal with some of the difficult emotions. Things could be made more coherent, darker or lighter, with a clearer narrative for a viewer. But that is not how I experienced these memories.

Grand Arcade collage
Linocut and collage of digital images overlaid with ink

The main printmaking technique used was linocut together with collage and digital manipulation of photographs. Sources of inspiration are:

  • Intro to Al Jazeera People and Power
  • Fantasy worlds and impossible perspectives of MC Escher
  • Vorticists like Wyndham Lewis and  linocuts of Grosvenor School printmakers like Sybil Andrews 
  • Paintings and collage of Rose Wylie

Project 5.2 Arcadia recycled

This project focused on textures and overprinting to make new images. Here I took the idea of the Grand Arcade as an Arcadian ‘temple’ to ethical consumerism, overlaying recycled bubblewrap (dreams) and netting (traps) onto a series of reject combination linocut/monoprints of love, violence and dance from Printmaking 1.

Techniques used were collagraph on original combination linocut and  monoprint. Key inspirations were bubblewrap art of Bradley Hart, urban abstract collage paintings  David Dernie and the emotionally powerful textural sculptures of  Cornelia Parker.

Assignment 5: The Dreaming

The assignment takes things further into a fantasy world inspired by video games, aboriginal mythology and dystopian images of global warming. Starting with digitally manipulated screenprints of the Grand Arcade transferred to a collagraph card plate, this was reprinted in different colours and papers that are collaged in different ways to make a narrative sequence of:

  • ‘Arcadia’ a confused image of verdant pastures and glittering dreams.
  • Sleepwalk where the green turns to black and sickly purple under zombie-like power and needless destruction.
  • Age of Crow – a frozen sterile winter ruled by greed and cunning.

My main influence here was a workshop on card cut collagraphs by Charles Shearer, Australian Aboriginal and Maori art and mythology and the videogame Dreamfall: The Longest Journey.