Archive for category Medium: Screenprinting
The Northamptonshire peasant poet John Clare said of his poems that he didn’t write them so much as “find them in the fields”. Similarly based herself, artist and printmaker Carry Akroyd works intimately with nature and landscape, including elements as she finds them rather than as they could be idealised. Back when there were more American airbases in the area, jets and vapour trails would often appear in her work, “because it was there”. The amazing thing was that this mechanisation did not jar with a bucolic scene, but became as much a part of it as anything else. In this book, you’ll often find queues of heavy traffic along the major roads that cut through the region.
The core of this collection of some 210 prints and paintings is Carry’s series of 16 lithographs based on Clare’s work and incorporating some of his words. There is, however, much more, including landscapes from further afield in East Anglia as well as Wales and Scotland.
Carry’s images are rarely straightforwardly pictorial and include elements of abstraction that place wildlife and insects in their habitat, but out of proportion. Edges are often jagged and roads wind through patchwork fields that do indeed look almost stitched together. The result is a sense of location and habitat much more than of place, but the atmosphere is perfect. Of the Fens, she says it’s “a land that lends itself to abstraction”, with its flatness and huge skies. This she often portrays from a high viewport than cannot be obtained from land, but requires the wings of the birds that ride the wind overhead.
As well as working with Clare’s poems, Carry is also influenced by them, and it’s impossible to ignore parallels between a man who found words in the fields and an artist whose work comes out of, rather than looking into them.
I have known Carry Akroyd’s work for thirty-odd years and it’s a genuine privilege to be able to review this magnificent book, the quality of whose reproduction is the work of a publisher who takes real care.
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Having a teacher of screenprinting on hand, I asked her to cast an eye over this one. Although she didn’t want to contribute the review herself, what follows is based on her professional view.
The first comment was that this is authoritative and comprehensive, giving lists of both equipment for a good variety of types of image and also explaining how to work with it. These explanations are in a step-by-step format that is easy for the non-specialist to follow. The inclusion of health and safety information is particularly welcome as some materials and techniques are hazardous and safe storage and the use of protective clothing is essential. The illustrations are well-chosen and clear.
As well as basic techniques, there is also an exploration of some more experimental ones and, again, the processes are clearly explained.
Overall, this is a clearly-presented guide that would appeal to both the beginner and the more experienced practitioner. The conclusion was that “I’d recommend it”.
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Screenprinting is one of those media that hang on in the digital age because they have a genuine craft feel rather than the detachment that computer work can give; a bit like airbrushing or film photography. Whereas they were once the province of the commercial artist, they’re now being increasingly taken up (or reclaimed) by the purely creative fraternity.
The subtitle of this timely look at what’s been going on sums it up completely: Inspirational pieces by contemporary practitioners. The bulk of the book is taken up with examples of work from around the world, with notes explaining the background to the pieces reproduced. There’s also a handy Short History at the beginning which is brief enough not to bother those who know, but long enough to give those less familiar with it an idea of what they’re looking at. Much the same can be said of Screenprinting in Practice. In three pages it isn’t going to tell you how to go about making your own prints, but it does give a hint to the processes involved.
As an introduction to what screenprinting can do and what’s going on around the world at the moment, this can’t be faulted. I might wish for a larger format, though, and maybe a paper stock that didn’t knock the colours back quite so much.
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