Dundee Print Collective: Silk Road

In September 2015 I had a print on display at the Silk Road exhibition, part of Impact 9 International Printmaking Conference, Hangzhou-China. September 2015. This was an exhibition by Dundee Print Collective and was displayed again in Dundee on it’s return at WASPS Meadow Mills.

The title and text relating to this print are below:

Freedom is found in the places in between

In specific places rules exist. Expectations of actions and thoughts exist. When a journey starts from somewhere known, to somewhere unknown, perhaps during that journey true freedom is found. The road, the route, the space of flux. The space where people move, ideas are traded, cultures are crossed and a new form of freedom is found.

One of the editions from this print now sits proudly on my living room wall, it’s my favourite of all that I have created so far.



Dundee Print Collective: Edition 2

I had a third print exhibited as part of Dundee Print Collective, this exhibition was on display at the Hannah Mclure Centre in Dundee as part of Print Festival Scotland in 2015. My print is the one on the far left of this first wall as you enter the exhibition. It was titled: Marvel at the Moon.

You can’t see it from a distance, but surrounding the large moon which is created from leaving a space in the darkness. There are lines of small text that create the outer rings. It’s perhaps easiest to see them on this exposed screen.

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Dundee Print Collective – Edition 1

Sometimes it is nice to slow down. I think this is what I have enjoyed most about my recent foray into printmaking. I like the process. It slows me down. It slows the printing process down. This gives me time to think and a chance to figure out how I would like the ink to dry on the paper. Going through this printing process makes me appreciate and value my prints more.

I spent a few weekends last year in the print studio at Dundee Contemporary Arts, as I was experimenting with developing some print designs for the new Dundee Print Collective. The print collective set no theme, but there was a set format. So the print had to be specific dimensions, with one black layer and one optional further colour. It was busy in the studio, with a number of people in the newly formed collective working away – at various stages of the printing process. I developed two prints over a two different weekends and I have discussed them a little more below.

Love Sunny Days
With my Love Sunny Days print I started a quick brainstorm around this idea on the Friday and on Sunday I started printing… In some ways it is quite simple in concept and is a development of the first screen print I ever made in a basics class, where I chose to cut out the words ‘Love Sunny Days’. It was done very quickly and quite childlike in its aesthetic. However, at the time I was super happy with it! A year on, I still love sunny days and so decided these words needed a refresh and that was the base for developing this print. Simple really. However, there is definitely more to read into it if you want to.

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Modern Masters Printmaking Masterclass

I learned a little more about printmaking at a brilliant free class ‘Modern Masters Printmaking Masterclass’ at The McManus last weekend. Local artist and printmaker Scott Hudson started by discussing the process of etching – both traditional and current. Then gave us a demonstration of drypoint etching on card – a technique that is similar to etching on metal or engraving – but much more simple and more direct.

printmaking, etching, mcmanus, modern masters in print, dundee, art, creative learning, museums

We then went to explore The Modern Masters in Print exhibition. This exhibition is touring from The Victoria and Albert Museum, London and showcases the work of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol. I did some of the marketing for this exhibition and had previously visited it on a number of occasions. I knew I liked the diverse nature of work explored in the 50 prints on display, I liked that it gave insights into the way printmaking influenced these great artists during their long careers (which collectively spanned a 75 year period) and I loved the detail that was captured in some of the prints.

However, on this quick specialised tour – as we walked round Scott encouraged us to ask questions about the printmaking techniques. Something I had not considered in such detail on my previous visits. Therefore, this visit was spent exploring the techniques each artist had employed – with detailed explanations of the process of these techniques. I gained a new understanding of how Picasso may have etched such impressive detail into prints such as ‘Le Repas Frugal’, a new appreciation of the soft quality and texture in Picasso’s ‘Le Cirque’ and Matisse’s ‘Nu assis de dos’ prints that would have originally been grinded into limestone using the lithography technique and I marvelled at the multiple colours in Dali’s ‘Paris’ and ‘Normandie’ prints that as a traditional offset Lithograph I imagined must have been created using a taxing series of layers.

modern masters in print, printmaking, mcmanus, dundee, art, etching

It was definitely an inspiration, and whilst I had no aspirations of reaching their level of ability when we headed back into the creative learning to suite to get crafting, I certainly did feel inspired. I was keen to get my hands dirty and test something, so I started with a very simple print where I was mostly interested in testing how the different marks I made in the card would come out in ink. So I cross hatched, I cut squares, I scribbled, I applied Chine-collé and I scratched with sand paper to make a vague representation of buildings. Then it was time to ink up, so I applied ink (perhaps slightly generously) then proceeded to wipe away most of it, before sticking it in the printing press and turning the magic lever. Then voila – my first etched print was born.

made a vague representation of buildings by cuttingFor my second print I dashed round the museum quickly for inspiration – sketching the curved roof in the Victoria Gallery, the straight lines of the spiral staircase and a model aeroplane. I decided to create something abstract with these shapes and just merged them all into one a4 page that was ultimately a further exploration of how the ink would show up different textures. A success.

I think it is important not to forget the value of creative learning classes like these. I know learning and education have been embedded in museum and gallery settings for a long time. However, it is important to remember how they offer visitors a brilliant chance to engage with the exhibitions, and local artists in a dynamic and exciting way. It is always great to learn more about the history and context of work, but this additional understanding of the process of creation is of equal importance and means that the simple words on a museum label (etching, lithography, screenprint, woodcut, linocut) gain a new relevance when looking at pieces of art. Particularly useful if you don’t have a background in printmaking or an art education.

The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson