Saturday, 25 June 2011

Collography, collodion and the East Sussex Contemporary Art fair

The last few days have been immensely busy; a graduate show at Central St Martins , followed 24 hours later by the East Sussex Contemporary Art show; two very different experiences, in which the biggest lesson learnt has to be that people like free stuff, and that very few people outside the photographic community understand what a "C-type" print or an "archival digital print" are.

Much of my work is abstract, and not instantly recognisable as a photograph, so I tried to give details that would make this clear; but maybe not clear enough. My work "Daydreams 2" (below) has attracted the most attention on my stand at the art show, and although derived from a photo of reflections in a stream, is sufficiently far removed from the original subject after manipulation to confuse the viewer into believing that what they see is not a photograph. much of my recent photographic work has involved layering and collage, and this is an example of the use of symmetry in the layering process.

Daydreams 2    (copyright Caroline Fraser 2011)

 Understanding other artists techniques is always a challenge; I have been learning about collographs and dechirage, after admiring the work of Ali Stump, printmaker and Fizz Fieldgrass respectively,at the art fair.

collographic print by Ali Stump
Collography is, according to Wikipedia;

 "a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a rigid substrate (such as cardboard or wood). The word is derived from the Greek word koll or kolla, meaning glue and graph, meaning the activity of drawing, which could explain the common misspelling collagraph. (Adding to the confusion, a photo-collagraph is a term to refer to any type of collotype photographic print.)

The plate can be intaglio-inked, inked with a roller or paintbrush, or some combination thereof. Ink or pigment is applied to the resulting collage, and the board is used to print onto paper or another material using either a printing press or various hand tools. The resulting print is termed a collagraph. Substances such as carborundum, acrylic texture mediums, sandpapers, string, cut card, leaves and grasses can all be used in creating the collograph plate. In some instances, leaves can be used as a source of pigment by rubbing them onto the surface of the plate."

This is not to be confused with the wet plate collodion process used in photography, used to stunning effect by one of my fellow students at Central St Martins Jonny Weeks in his portraits of blind people.

Ali Stump creates her prints using cardboard, and they have a beautiful simplicity to them with unusual, almost child-like perspectives of everyday objects.

Dechirage is almost a reversal of collage, being a process of removal rather than addition. Fizz Fieldgrass creates delicate sculptures using source images such as photographs as source material, which are then printed onto fabric, built up in layers, and then torn away to create delicate three dimensional images.

example of dechirage by Fizz Fieldgrass

Fieldgrass has a background in sculpture, and his use of textiles and Japanese papers was a source of admiration for many seeing his work this weekend. The main concern by visitors was how long the work will survive, given the delicate nature of the work; a currently  unanswered question.
dechirage by Fizz Fieldgrass

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