And here's the finished piece with drypoint Roman lamps and dice printed over the solar plate. Not sure how much of a sense of festiveness it gives but I'm quite pleased with the composition and movement in it.
Here is a proof of the first of my two-plate image for December. It's progressing very slowly and feels somewhat like pulling teeth. I don't know if it's down to some innate obstinacy but I really struggle with working to a brief rather than Doing My Own Thing - however wide the brief is. Anyway, I am gradually squeezing out an image. I'm thinking that this plate will be printed in blue and sepia, with a second drypoint plate over printed in a rich yellow (blue and gold were the predominant colours used during Saturnalia). I was going to used gold ink but I don't think that will reproduce well for the calendar. Normally I would have made an etching and aquatint but we're on quite a tight schedule for this project; tight for me anyway because I work oh so very slowly. I'm panicking a bit about meeting the deadline and solar plate is so much quicker, if less satisfying. I'm trying to see it as a good thing though as it's really challenging me and forcing me to work in different ways. I think I'm probably stuck in an etching rut a bit... and my output is fairly feeble so hopefully this is giving me the necessary kick up the backside.
And so, on to the next project. The artists' group (we now have a name - more on that later) is producing a calendar
for 2014; we each drew a month at random and will make a print relevant
to that month. I drew December. No Christmas references from me - I'm basing mine on the Roman festival of Saturnalia which ran from 17 to 24
December. I guess in many ways it was like a precursor to how we
celebrate Christmas now as they did many of the things we do - feasting,
gift-giving, decorating their houses with greenery. However the Roman
festival was based around the worship of Saturn, god of agriculture, harvest and abundance. One of the
central elements was role reversal; masters dressed as slaves and
waited on their servants, and gambling, usually illegal was allowed at this time. More on this as the project progresses.
Creative opportunities are
coming thick and fast at the moment. Friday night, we had the private view of
Double Exposure, an exhibition of original prints by Red Hot Press members, and
a whole range of work, from painting, drawing and sculpture to digital
installations by the artists at unit11studios.
The exhibition is housed at
the recently reopened Wool House, a 14th Century building here in Southampton
that used to house the city's maritime museum. That was its last use anyway; as
the name suggests, it was originally build to store wool for export to the
continent. It's a wonderful place - a stone structure with a beautiful
wooden-beamed vaulted ceiling. The building has been closed for the last year
or so as the artefacts have been transferred to the new SeaCity Museum (once
the magistrates court).
The Wool House Project has
been set up by Element Arts, a group of local creative who are passionate about
the arts and really committed to doing what they can to promote it in the city.
As with all the small arts organisations in Southampton, they have no money and
are staffed by dedicated volunteers who give of their time generously. Element
Arts, Red Hot Press, A Space, the Art House to name just four; without these,
Southampton would revert to the near cultural dessert it was ten, fifteen years
ago. What a privilege it is to be involved in this burgeoning creative scene.