23.02 - Home Time
I’ve just got home. It’s 23.02 and it’s a Tuesday.
I go straight to the kitchen to fill by body back up with all the water I just lost cycling back from the studio. I catch a glance of myself in the window’s reflection and smirk at this morning’s attempt to tame my hair into two cute french plaits which now resemble something along the lines of Mugatu’s do in Zoolander with only a littttttle less grey. I remember there’s an ice lolly in the freezer, and then EVEN BETTER I remember there’s a cheeky stella or 6 in the fridge. My heart jumps a little into defence mode when I only see five (assuming our house food-thief), and then I remember I can’t count and I’m already holding one in my hand. Heading back to my room I think of how to start this week’s blog post that should really be finished by now. Clicking open Spotify, I make sure something inspiring is playing. I go for ’Asian Underground: When Bollywood met British beats’. I give it five minutes. It’s not working. I think about the ice lolly. I think about re-doing my nails and maybe giving myself a foot rub because I deserve it.
I decide not to procrastinate and just get on with this.
That, ladies and gents, is exactly 217 words about my mundane after ‘work’ life. I tend to research a lot during the week, and still have nothing stable, structured and substantial written to formally communicate my thoughts. I’ve been fully immersed for 2 weeks now into my artist residency at East London Printmakers and it’s taking its toll physically AND emotionally. It’s an absolutely incred programme open to local, national and international artists, and I happen to have been chosen as that artist for the next 3 months. That means I have basically been awarded (free) 24-hour access to the studio’s facilities for 12 weeks, storage AND working space, materials budget, and the chance to host a master-workshop. (Also means I get to smell like grease, etching ink and enjoy the inevitable dark, ink-stained printer’s fingernails too, but that’s all part of the fun). Oh, but I do also have a 40 hr job too, so I have to fit that in around my practice.
SO ANYWAY I thought you guys might enjoy a little explanation of my Artist Residency and exactly what it is i’ll be getting up to. I know you’ve all been stalking my Instagram (shout out to Dad who I forced to download it so he can do exactly that), and apparently my recent posts have been doing 90% better than any of my other posts. Oh flattery comes so naturally to you, Insta!
This is just the bees-knees of workshops. The views over the canal are great, and the light is just THE BEST. My bro pointed out that it would be hard for this building to be anything but artist studios. I’ve already seen at least 4 insane pink sunsets but no sunrises as of yet..
In here I’ll be working on a set of etchings that expand from my current practice to fuse together the digital realm, the digital print, and the notion of painting. Starting with the grid formality of photo-etching, I use a light sensitive liquid resist photo-emulsion that is hand-worked onto a copper plate (in the dark, because duh) and then exposed to UV light through an associate positive of my (digital) image. This (hopefully) will give a painterly, but photographic result once developed in a particularly salty solution. Everything has to be completely grease-free, so the number of times I’ve ‘de-greased’ my plate is so high even my print mama would be proud (especially with all the safety precautions I’m taking).
You then have to apply a rosin dust to the surface, in a very technical hand-operated box, blast it with a flame and wait for it to cool, before putting it in acid for approx. 40-50 minutes to eat away at the grain. The grain in the plate will then (again, hopefully, because this is super difficult to get right) hold all the ink exactly where you want it so you’re able to print it.
My first week was very technical because each exposure unit machine that you come across has its own independent unit measurement. I did a series of tests, and finallllllly came out with a result I thought I could control.
Just this evening I printed off my first two plates. YAAAS, slay.
These ELP studios really encourage experimentation and development of new work, so failure is all a part of the process. There have been, and I’m sure there will be many more evenings late with me there worried about the pressure to get things right because I’ve been ‘invited’ to be there as an artist. We all get things wrong though and that’s part of the making, and actually how we thrive (as artists, as anyone really) in such a specialised arena. We push ourselves and the process because you’re never really sure exactly what’s it’s capable of. Ngl, I do have to keep reminding myself of that, almost everyday.
P.S. guys - I think I deserve the Ice-Lolly now.