Good to be back...

It’s strange and exhilarating to be back. It occurs to me on the way in that it’s been over two years since I printed anything, and it seems incomprehensible and daunting that it’s been that long. Given this, deciding to ease myself back in with a 4 colour CMYK separation of one of my collages is possibly not the best move. Process wise there’s just enough muscle memory left to make everything feel pleasingly familiar and reassuring, but also just enough massive holes in my memory to mean I quickly make a mess of the registration as I lay down my second colour, rendering my first set of prints a failure.

To a great extent though this is something of a saving grace, as Dave jumps in to take me through the process from scratch, restoring my confidence a little and forcing me to take the time to do things properly. My tendency to rush, which has always been my downfall, has I suspect been exacerbated by my “day job” but I think I need to make a conscious effort to take the time to do this properly so that I am truly satisfied with the results, and also so that I enjoy and get the most out of this experience. I don’t want my print time to be as manic and under the gun as my work life (with it’s equally rushed and unsatisfying results).

By the end of the day I’ve produced a very satisfying 4 colour separation from one of my collages. It’s not perfect – the moire on the cyan is very visible, but overall the print has a quality that extends beyond the original – the vibrant colour shift of the four-colour process exaggerating the retro hyper-reality of the source materials used to make the collage.

Having worked in near isolation on my new collage work for nearly a year now, it’s nerve wracking to bring it out in the open in the context of the studio, and although I am happy with the results today I do get the first inkling, that the radical departure of my collage work might be leaving behind too many unexplored elements of my old work.

I hoped that cataloguing and mounting my collage work would allow me to explore and understand the themes and direction prevalent therein, but whilst I can undoubtedly see a subtle development in my work (both technically, and in the recurrence of themes and ideas) I do find that too many pieces feel whimsical or puny – riffing on a shape or quality of a piece of found material, they are pleasing, but lack direction – effectively dead ends.

My collage work kept me going when it was the only easy and practical way to express myself, to produce a body of work. I could escape to my small studio with a scalpel a prit stick and a pile of clippings from 1970s encyclopaedias and feel like I was creating again. I now need to figure out what’s next. As easy and satisfying as it would be to simply create 4 colour screen prints every week, I need to figure out what lies within the truer aspects of these sketches, and bring them on, whilst at the same time perhaps not abandoning everything that has come before.