STATEMENT

SPENT 6

I have been a contemporary artist/printmaker for over twenty years with a studio in Tring, Hertfordshire. My work is driven by political and cultural concerns covering issues from Maternal/Female Subjectivity, Eating Dysmorphia and Memory to the Civil War in Syria; it is therefore conceptual and photographic in influence.

An interest in and knowledge of the Polymer Print process is the transformative tool which enables me to create visually strong imagery. Non toxic polymer printmaking is perfect for layering the documentary authenticity of photography with the versatility of Relief and Intaglio processes and its use of line, sumptuous texture and colour.

My Blog https://cyberslog.wordpress.com/ permits comment on recent exhibitions and other artist’s work and Art Theory, and this Blog is where I share some insights and images of my own practice and enjoy the feedback and support.

I have written about Art theory especially Feminism & Psychoanalysis in Art and have been published in the peer reviewed Journal of Visual Arts Practice. I have had technical essays published in Printmaking Today and I devised, found funding for and organised a Community Arts project called ‘A Day in the Life of Grovehill’ in Hemel Hempstead and would like to do more community work.

I open my studio to the public annually and this year I am opening in June as part of the Bucks Open Studios.  I enjoy sharing my knowledge and teach Non Toxic Polymer Printmaking in schools and colleges and in my studio.   I constantly look for new opportunities and collaborations to generate artworks and to find a new audience.  I am interested in new ideas and technologies and welcome exciting challenges.

Coming over all Colourful

Random feather - cobalt & burnt umber

 

I have never been all that bothered with colour.  As a printmaker I have been obsessed with achieving good, opaque and solid blacks – get two printmakers together and they’ll spend most of their time discussing the relative values of the black parts of their works.

 

Flite I

But recently a funny thing has happened to me, I’ve been getting really excited about COLOUR!  I have no explanation for this, am I trying to cheer myself up,  or am I expressing some kind of inner harmony?  Who knows, but I’m enjoying the fun of discovering pleasing and unusual colour combinations.

goose - rose pink & terra cotta 2

I have posted a few here for you to see, I hope you find them pleasing.

peacock x 4 cobalt & raw umber

RECOLLECTING AND FORGETTING 2

Recollecting and Forgetting 2

“Every photograph is a certificate of presence.  This certificate is the new embarrassment which its invention has introduced into the family of images.

…..The important thing is that the photograph possesses an evidential force, and that it testimony bears not on the object but on time.  From a phenomenological viewpoint, in the Photograph, the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation.”                                                                        Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, pp87 – 89

This work explores the photograph’s connection to time and to memory; and it seeks to show how this aspect of the medium makes it both fascinating and potentially uncanny.

A photograph authenticates a person’s existence, because, as Roland Barthes says, it is “the certificate of presence.”  But it also denotes absence. We have our memories but back them up with the evidential force of the photograph portrait.  We value the images of our departed relatives; they are the evidence that once that person existed, and like our memory even photographs fade. They fade slowly, and infuriatingly sometimes, only the general outline of that person, like a shadow, like a ghost, like a faulty memory is all we have left.

These twelve Polymer Etchings are derived from one photograph of my grandmother taken in the 1930’s when she was my age; I was not there when they were taken and she is not here now.  They describe through sequentially diminishing imagery, the process of time on memory loss or dementia.

THE OPERATOR. THE SPECTATOR. THE SPECTRUM.

Monotone Obscure.reveal - no border

OBSCURE / REVEAL I

Double-Plate Polymer Etching

280 x 385 mm

August 2015

“Whatever Photography grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible:  it is not it that we see.”

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

This is the first of a new body of work that aims to explore the power of the partially obscured, or inadequately seen, photographic portrait.  In this print a powerful abstract swathe of ink threatens the image with invisibility and doing so adds potency to the impassive face.

We live in a world in which the art of memory seems almost obsolete, having been outsourced to communications technology, through which perfect, high-resolution images and information are endlessly uploaded and reproduced. These contemporary methods of digital record-keeping let me to wonder what impact this would have on our perception of ourselves, and the loss of meaning on our sensibilities. And what affect the proliferation of so many perfect representations of the human face would have on the appreciation of old and unclear photographic souvenirs, and whether their very fragility by contrast would confer some mystery and power on these fragments.

This triggered a new direction in my practice and an exploration into the impact of partly obscured portraits.  Francis Bacon stated that his portraiture sought to “Deform into the Truth” and in a similar way these prints aim to reveal by obscuring the unique nature and moment when this image was fixed for all time.

SILENT EPIDEMIC

I read this week that eating disorders are on the rise again among girls. They are starving themselves in a tragic, tormented attempt to achieve perfection.  It’s been dubbed the ‘silent epidemic’, and is a disease that creeps silently through the country’s schools, colleges, universities and is devastating families.

It is difficult to know how to halt its progress once the illness has taken hold.  It affects boys, too, albeit half as often as girls, and no one can predict where it will strike deepest.  A slew of figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre his week shows the number of teenagers being treated for eating disorders has doubled in just three years to almost 1,700 last year.

That we should resist the temptation to pressurise our offspring to achieve, is self evident.  How to do this is the question; the answer surely must to let light onto the subject.  We must talk about this.  Educate those vulnerable, impressionable minds not to fall prey to their obsession – drip-feed by advertising, fashion and the media – to be the thinnest.

We must use everything we have to counteract this pressure by meeting each ‘perfect’ image with another ‘real’ image of what bodies should look like.  As an artist, images are my stock-in-trade, and I have created a new artwork  called Dis Miss in an effort to throw light onto the relationship we have with our bodies, and the impossibility, for some, to see their own body as others see them.

This line of thought also led me to think about the use of the prefix ‘dis’ when used to express a negative, like ….

distort                                                         dishonest

dislike                                                         disrespect

disengage                                                   disbelieve

disappear                                                    dismember

disable                                                        disappear

distinguish                                                 disperse

disbar                                                         distrait

– and ‘to diss’ it has become a colloquial term meaning to treat someone with disrespect, or ….

to                                   dis miss                              them.

Dis Miss 1A DISS MISS 6

DISS MISS 2 DISS MISS 9 DISS MISS 16

The six ‘doors’ are photopolymer relief prints of ‘normal’ body parts being clutched by anxious, evaluating hands; and these open onto a charcoal drawing of an anorexic woman’s body.  The inside of these doors cast a fluorescent glow onto the wasted body beneath, that, coupled with the words written on them, are my attempt to counteract negative perceptions towards our bodies.

Tum 2 Bum 1 Boob 1

SOLAR PLATE PRINTMAKING

Solar Plate Printmaking (or polymer etch) is a relatively new print process that enables images to be established onto metal plates by exposure to light using sunlight or an ultra violet light source.  The plates are developed by washing in water and can be printed as intaglio or relief prints.  Unlike traditional etching techniques, no acid etching is necessary and no toxic chemicals are used in the plate-making process.  This is a very versatile artistic medium which exploits drawing abilities, computer and graphic skills and gestural mark making.

Images are established onto pre-coated, light-sensitive metal plates by placing photographic acetates onto a plate and exposing it to sunlight or ultra-violet light.  Photocopies of artwork, photos or drawings on acetate film work best with good contrasting opaque blacks, and this can be achieved by applying ‘Posterize’ filter under Image-Adjust tool in Photoshop software.

Line drawings and drawings using oil-based crayons on True grain also work well. Alternatively, you can draw directly onto a solar plate that has been covered with opaque black printing ink.

DETAILS OF THE PROCESS

Photographic Images – photographs of urban landscapes, rural idylls, portraits and text etc. can be scanned into a computer where they can be digitally manipulated to create unusual and quirky images or to heighten contrast & tone. The final image must be altered to the right size, 13.2 X 18.2 cm, (or 21 x 27.5 cms if using larger plates) and copied onto an acetate sheet (transparency) – use the correct acetate (transparency) for Inkjet printers if you are using your own Inkjet printer.

 100_0950

Process – The image on the acetate is then exposed onto the polymer-coated metal plate using a ‘contact frame’ and sunlight (or ultra-violet light source on cloudy days) to achieve an ‘intaglio’ plate. To create really dark aquatints a dot screen is exposed BEFORE exposing the image – this is called ‘Double Exposure’.

          100_0960           100_0962

Drawings – A favourite drawing can be either scanned into your computer and copied onto acetate (transparency) or photocopied – see above, or you can draw directly onto ink-covered plates.

Process – The image on the acetate is then exposed onto the polymer-coated metal plate using a ‘contact frame’ and sunlight (or ultra-violet light source on cloudy days) to achieve an ‘intaglio’ plate.

Found objects – like leaves, fabric, string, paper etc. can be placed on top of light-sensitive plates, placed in the ‘contact frame’ and this can then be exposed to the light.  This process can achieve interesting abstract relief plates and work well with a second different plate (double plate printing).

100_0940Gestural mark-making and drawing – To create ‘relief’ prints work straight onto a plate that has a layer of oil-based printing ink rolled across its surface. Once the ink covers the plate there is plenty of time available to work ‘into’ the ink.100_0949

The plate can then be left in the sun to react to the ultra violet rays.  Once the plates have been exposed to ultra-violet sunlight (in all of the methods) the loose polymers need to be rinsed off the plate – in effect this is ‘developing’ the plate – and achieved by merely washing the plates in lukewarm water.  This takes only a few minutes and is fully developed once the plate stops feeling ‘slimy’.

100_0934100_0963

Remove the plates and blot away excess water then ‘light-harden’ by leaving in the sunlight for about 5 minutes or until the surface feels hard to the touch – I tend to leave the plates overnight to be sure that they have hardened.

Ink the ‘intaglio’ plates in the usual way for etchings, using oil-based inks, a scraper and ‘scrim’ cloth to wipe the plate clean. To ink ‘relief plates’ use a heavy roller to apply a thin layer of ink onto the raised surface of the plate.

Once your plates have been established you can get really creative by layering multiple plates, mixing intaglio with relief plates, using the Chine Collé process, offset plates, full colour separation, exposing one strongly contrasting image with another identical but blurred image, and many other effects which are limited only by your imagination.

This is a new technique which does challenge assumptions and its potential is waiting for the creative impulse of more artists.  One day Courses are taught by Sheila de Rosa and held at Studio 15, Akeman Business Park, Tring, Hertfordshire, UK. sheiladerosa@btinternet.com

 

A VIEW OF MY STUDIO

Sheila_show_Dec_2014_2

Last weekend I organised a little pre-Christmas gathering at my studio.  Five other artists joined me in displaying their works on my walls and we invited friends and fans to come and look at the work whilst enjoying a glass of mulled wine, some mince pies and convivial conversation.

Sheila_show_Dec_2014_5

Barry Gowers, Terry Sadler, David Reed Elliot, Julie Boyce and Nyree Kavanagh all displayed work.  It was great to get together before the panic of Christmas and look forward to a creative year ahead.  Here are some pictures of the studio and some of the work on display (thank you Barry for the photos).

Sheila_show_Dec_2014_4 Sheila_show_Dec_2014_3 Sheila_show_Dec_2014_1