Finally finished my animation Shadow Boy and Shadow Girl

You can click on the link to view it here :  https://vimeo.com/208883758

This work has taken me a while to complete, as I started this series of prints two summers ago when visiting Crow’s Shadow Press in the USA.

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Crows’s Shadow Press is located on a Native American reservation in the eastern high desert of Oregon. This print studio is surrounded by rolling grassland and huge clouds. Distant views of the mountains are filtered a luminous blue with the atmosphere.

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The area feels ancient. In front of the studio there is a small graveyard: a scattering of graves on a grassy plot, complete with plastic flowers, windmills, flags and clothing, all in homage and reverence.

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If you were to sit there for a while, you would only hear the fluttering of flags, the crisp rustle of insects in the dry grass, and perhaps the gentle creak of your own muscles and breath.

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I started to imagine what it would be like to become and then not become again in this place. I started to make a series of prints of a boy and a girl, dressed in clothing from the 1850s, during the time when formal traditional clothing was being abandoned for western styles.

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In the animation, the boy and girl emerge from the darkness, defined and described by a sequence of white lines. Gradually they change shape and expression, they appear to get older, more serious, lighter and brighter, until eventually they are carved away completely.

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The images are from two reduction linocuts which I carved and printed in sequence, using only one type of mark: a carved horizontal line. I made 14 prints of each image, one set of prints for the boy and one for the girl. Then I created thousands of in-between frames in photoshop by deleting the frame in front to reveal the frame behind and saving it as a new image.

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It was difficult to continue to carve away at the figures until almost nothing was left, as it felt like destroying the individuals themselves. I learnt a lot with how much can be said with very minimal lines.

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In some respects, the progressive carving and whitening of the block could be read as a loose metaphor for the whitening of indigenous populations, as well as a reflection on blurring of the past…

Here it is again https://vimeo.com/208883758

I’m happy to say that the work will be displayed in China next week.

I have taken a selection of 160 frames at life size (each frame is 15 x 20 cm, and there are 80 frames from each sequence) and placed them side by side to show the working process. The inkjet prints of these frames are a rich and velvety black. As the prints do not exist any longer, because the blocks were entirely carved away, it is nice to bring the prints back to life again. The animation and the inkjet prints will be displayed alongside each other in Changsha Normal University in Hunan province, China, during April 2017.

crow girl poster for changsha sheet 01_eecrow girl poster for changsha sheet 02_ee

crow boy poster for changsha 02_rejigged_eecrow boy poster for changsha 03 rejigged_ee

Pictures of the installation to follow!

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I just got back from a trip to the US where I spent time with many lovely friends and hung out in the forests and fields, forgetting about the hustle of London life. It was exactly what I was longing for: no near-death misses on my bike, no sirens all night, no tube strikes and city-wide roadworks: hurrah, instead the sound of the sea from my cabin at night, and lots of time outdoors. So I thought I would bring out my sketchbook, something that was a constant companion until I suddenly stopped a few years ago. One drawing a day, I thought, and I didn’t quite make it, but here are some of them.
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ForestIMG_3891_e

Grass Mountain

IMG_3892_eGrass Mountain
IMG_3893_eView of the sand spit from Cascade headIMG_3894_eView of Cascade head from the sand spit

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Sitka Center for Arts and EcologyIMG_3895Bus to Seattle, with annoying stranger who leaned on my arm the whole trip… ;(IMG_3882_ePrint Zero print studio in Seattle, run by Brian LaneIMG_3878_e

Brian LaneIMG_3879_e

Brian in pub

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Great show about disguise at the Seattle Art MuseumIMG_3897_e

IMG_5921_eThe rolling fields near Weston, OrIMG_5922_eIMG_5923_eSt Andrew’s Mission graveyard
IMG_5924_eOh the greyhound bus, next to prophets and veteransIMG_5925_eMo Osorio in LAIMG_5926_eDaisy and BongoIMG_5927_eJack Doyle’s cameraIMG_5928_eCabin in the forest
IMG_5919_eColumbia River GorgeIMG_3900_e

Hestia and MekoIMG_3899_e

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Greyhound, againIMG_3884_eOf course, many memories were undrawable, unphotographable, just nice to experience.

I was also fortunate to spend a few days in the beautiful Crow’s Shadow Press in eastern Oregon, which I first visited almost 10 years ago. It was great to catch up with friends, and breathe in the desert air, even though it actually rained there in August for the first time in years. I started to make a series of reduction prints which I am still working on now: here is a sneak preview.

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Wouldn’t it be great if this were an animation??

Hmmmmmmmmm, maybe.

One day, when they’ve made a teletransporter that doesn’t scramble you into a million pieces when you get reassembled, I’ll be able to invite everyone to visit my show, even if they live a million miles away… In the meantime, here’s some photos and a video. The weird cracking noise on the video is my knee- too much jumping around on concrete I think! I absolutely love the sound of the piano which transformed the space into a performance venue and changed the viewing of the work into a piece of drama.



 

Click on this picture below to view a video we made of the show, with the piano playing on its own.

And here’s a picture of me looking pleased!


Here are some more prints for the Chasing Tales show, continuing on from the Shadow Dance series started in the summer last year. They are all relief vinyl prints printed on somerset satin paper and measure 40 x 60 cm.


In December, I decided to award myself a fictional mini residency in East London Printmakers (the studio where I am usually technician and teacher) and spent 9 solid days in December making new prints as a response to those created in August. These are inspired by photos from the Crow’s Shadow archives which depict members of the confederated tribes of the Umatilla from the past hundred years. What I am interested in is the way clothes are like a sort of skin or mask to the body, concealing as well as revealing history and attitude. My mask prints of the past couple of years have also been exploring identity; now this series removes the facial features from individuals altogether.

These are vinyl relief prints printed with sakura oil based black ink on imperial sized somerset satin paper.

The work will be displayed in a solo show coming up in West Yorkshire Print Workshop in mid Feb to late March. I’ve decided to call the show Chasing Tales.

What a busy month… I started off teaching Japanese woodblock in a beautiful castle of Montefiore conca which is in Rimini in eastern Italy.

The landscape was stunning and the students extremely hardworking and enthusiastic.

Then I flew out to the US to visit friends, sit in the sunshine and be a printmaking spod with happy printmakers from all over the north west coast. I started out in Seattle with Brian Lane’s studio Print Zero which is located in Seattle.

It is a friendly welcoming place with etching silkscreen and photography facilities. I sat and made a linocut about grafitti when I was there, and was fortunate to have my photo taken by Dan Carillo who is doing a beautiful series of photos with a large format camera onto glass plates. Have a look at his beautiful photos using wet plate collodion including this amazing one of me where I look like a freckled gypsy from the 19C

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaporstew/4905761897/

http://www.daniel-carrillo.com/blog/?p=290

A couple of weeks later I went up to Vancouver BC where I gave a talk and the first screening of Lucid Mask, the animation, in a lovely gallery called Art Beatus.

The gallery was warm and welcoming and I had some good feedback on the piece as well as some much appreciated sales.

Then I was fortunate to spend a week in Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts in eastern Oregon working on developing a new series of prints.The landscape was stunning, golden yellows and lilac greys. On the way to the studio every day there were hawks whirling and floating above the fields and the light was fantastic.

I got really interested in the native american clothing as there were a few workshops going on that week focussing on beadwork of traditional buckskin dresses and horse regalia. It was a fun creative time making new work and experimenting with prints after finishing the animation.

In a week of intense printing I made 8 new prints. My favourite new press was the Ray Trales Press and my favourite inks were left overs from Wendy Red Star’s recent print project with Crow’s Shadow. I’m calling this the Shadow Dance series, but have yet to work out whether there are more to be made.

After then, I went straight from the desert to the sea and taught a class in woodblock in the beautiful Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology. The view of the Salmon river estuary as it meets the Pacific is such a glorious sight. This is from the Cascade head nature trail, about 45 minutes walk uphill from the Sitka Center itself.

Once again I had a class full of enthusiastic and talented students who really got into the process. Here are some of the prints that they made.

So all in all a very adventurous August, I am grateful to all those welcoming friends who helped me print along the way.