This series of prints, “Land” and before it, the “Mid cloisters dim” prints, emerged from a response to my immediate environment, from my reaction to change being wrought on the natural environment, the mass destruction of trees and the imposition of large oppressive structures. It evolved through observations of textures, materials and the relations between them, into he creation of analogies with emotional overtones, trees clutching the earth, flowers like disembodied hands, signatures and stamps imprinted in concrete, which coalesced into a concept of “human traces” and mark-making in a brutal sense. This evoked a poem which has inspired me before, “Frost at Midnight”, by ST Coleridge, in which the poet celebrates nature and bemoans the spiritual loss when forced to live apart from it, “mid cloisters dim”. I’m conscious of this is a personal theme, visited before in prints on “The Dream of the Rood”, which related trees, violence and casual neglect through the Old English poem of that name, a mediation of the “rood” on which the crucifixion took place. This series developed as a more abstract exploration of shape, line, mark-making and texture, via the “mid cloisters dim” more pictorial/ verbal stage which included a recognisable image of trees and an intaglio print of the verse, from which the idea of a series of broken but related shapes emerged. The shapes were conceived as a series, rather than a group, and thus evoking the sense of narrative which was influenced by the prints of Xu Bing. I struggled for a while to understand the tutorial comment that the final prints, the “Land” series, had had too much added with the monoprinted threads, as at the time, I felt that the piece lacked balance, visually as well as semantically, and that the threads provided a counterpoint, resolving the image while the abstract shapes dissolved. I can see the minimalist argument however, and think of the works of David Nash, both prints and sculpture, which have a monumental feel.
This raises questions about the relationship to the audience and “direction”, in both senses. The use of a scroll might imply a certain way of viewing, as traditional Chinese landscapes were meant to be “read” from top to bottom, or bottom to top, with the perspective changing en route. By contrast, I’m thinking of some of Nash’s lithographs of monumental shapes, often groups of three, where the horizontal placement might suggest a scene rather than a narrative, more akin to traditional western paintings.