Saturday, January 17, 2015

Navigating Etching's Reverie

Etching and collage (detail)...

From the collective response of print-makers answering the request for descriptions of what it is that connects them to etching and the intaglio print (several responses have been from artists making collagraph prints) it seems that  the personal, cultural and historical filters of the process evoke a dialogue of binding contradictions. The melt of its time, its mood and its process are seemingly never fixed to any singular experience.

S, a Japanese print maker living in Paris creating poetic observations of everyday experience described the liminal space that etching creates in being able to achieve a delicacy of line and tone that remains fluid and balanced between drawing and etching.

M is a print-maker from Philadelphia who is interested in the historical link between etching and photography. He made the analogy between etching and developing black and white photographic prints where the emergence of the image in the developing tray has a similar expectation to lifting the paper from the etching plate. Even when editioning a moderate number of etchings the sense of anticipation and surprise in pulling each print remains in place. He also felt there was a pace and timing to both processes that is very similar, Each process allows you windows of time to day-dream.

R from Brisbane, a print-making under-graduate interested in exploring transitions of the human condition reflected on etchings alchemy in the blending of materials and process where each of the natural elements are engaged. Earth through the melt of a ground on metal. Water in its effecting release of the size in paper, making it receptive to the most delicate of marks and its method of extending or diminishing time when combined with acids. Fire/heat in the etching of metal and the combining elements of Air and Water required to stabilize surfaces. The alchemy extending in the shift between metal, ink and paper.

D, a print-maker from Glasgow described making collagraph prints where the gathering of textures and materials is an integral part of her creative process. There is a sense of quiet expectation in the formal placement of shapes and textures that translates as collage and driven by the intuitive response. D often finds her sense of connection sway in deciding which form provides the strongest mediation, the print or the collagraph plate. She admits there are times when she feels as if the print exists as a subsidiary layer, a mere side-effect.  This duality in the relationship between process and the print is unique to collagraph, so many of my students relate a similar response.
E, also an under-graduate from Brisbane with a photographic background related etchings contradictions and the element of chance that needs to be embraced set against the discipline of mastering a process immersed in control. With the connection to photography E enjoyed the methodical progression of altered states that transpire with each re-etching. The emotional sway is something that she regarded as unavoidable. The swing from the quiet confidence that carries you through the preparation stage, the pleasure of drawing into the dark ground to reveal the shimmer of metal, the moment of frustration when the first proof is too dark or too light and the need to dissolve the disappointment and re-focus on achieving a desirable outcome.

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