SHOWS: I've been in

Photogram Work in the darkroom at Cleveland Print Room

I wanted to explore something completely different when I began the residency in Cleveland. I am always working with print, which requires a really specific way of thinking about image making. You must think in terms of layers, and keep the process you're using in mind at all times. With the exception of monotype, it's sometimes hard to be spontaneous in printmaking. The chance to work with photography for a while was a chance to refresh things and make something visually different, because I'm literally having to think differently during the process.

Of course, I still wanted to make work relevant to me. I love photography and taking photographs and have never used them in my own practice. So in the beginning of the residency period I did a lot of research and reading on alternative darkroom techniques, and ways in which I could use black and white photography in more abstract and spontaneous ways than I would have otherwise.

Ripple - Silver Gelatin Print

Ripple - Silver Gelatin Print

I had been thinking about the images made by surrealist photographer Man Ray, who popularised photograms, although he referred to them as Rayographs. Here is a little collection of my research images, all Man Ray photograms featuring hands:

These photograms really inspired me, as they were so unique, having a dreamlike, surreal mystery to them. I managed to learn the technique from the wonderful staff at CPR. The process is the same in the darkroom as it would be if you were making prints from a roll of film, just without the film. Essentially, they are camera-less photographs. The print room has great facilities for creating enlargements up to quite a large scale, so I was excited to work on some big photograms using my own paintings as transparencies. 

In my work have used hands as a symbol representing people, emotion, movement. Using the cutout hand shapes is also a callback to silhouette papercut illustration, and shadow puppetry.

A work in progress image from my sketchbook. I laid out the cutout hands in different ways to decide on compositions.

A work in progress image from my sketchbook. I laid out the cutout hands in different ways to decide on compositions.

To make my photograms I began with painting on transparencies, using sumi ink and salt, which I then cut up into shapes. I then brought these to the darkroom, where I arranged them under an enlarger directly on top of photo paper. These objects acted as a stencil for the light from the enlarger, and once exposed to that light, the photogram could be developed as usual.

Cutout hands on photopaper. This one actually ended up as a lumen print.

Cutout hands on photopaper. This one actually ended up as a lumen print.

I then brought these shapes to the darkroom, where I arranged them under an enlarger directly on top of photo paper. These objects acted as a stencil for the light from the enlarger, and once exposed to that light, the photogram could be developed as you would a normal black and white print. Below, you can watch the process of developing one of the photograms at the print room.

katieravenscraig photogram.jpg

I love this process and will be making more.

Check out the full project for more photograms! 

Impact 8 Printmaking Conference in Dundee

So Impact 8 happened last week, and it just flew by. The conference has previously been held in Australia, South Africa, and many cities within Europe, so it is very exciting that Dundee was chosen to host this year. Dundee does have a rich, relevant print history though - with DC Thompson, the invention of the postage stamp, academia, the art school, and digital and computer games industries.

I was a volunteer, and we were all very busy assisting with various tasks and taking in the awesome printmaking/academic vibes/knowledge. Dundee University and DCA print studio had been preparing for last week for a long time, and that enthusiastic energy really showed with all of the Impact events and the first ever Print Festival Scotland, too. I mainly acted as a technical hand should anything go awry in the presentations. I helped look after 2 talks (each with 3 speakers) and a panel discussion. The talks were both on the subject of 'Art and Science', which was really interesting and included a lot of great work. I met a lot of really talented folks with inspiring ideas. The speakers were  Barbara ZeiglerTim O’Riley, Monika Auch,  Sean Caulfield, Kathryn Smith, and Beatrice Haines. Everyone had such interesting things to say, and managed to elevate my understanding of how art and science can be brought together in a variety of ways, not just your usual 'visualisation/anatomy' uses. To name a few - ethics, highlighting scientific detachment, drawing attention to people, process and materials, and solving intrigue.

The panel discussion was so interesting too, and much more involved in the kind of subject my own art is involved in: 'Printopias' - creating whole worlds within print. My 4th year studio buddy Raluca Iancu was speaking at the panel discussion (about the Three Bridges Project), and it was fantastic to catch up after 2 YEARS! I can't believe it's been so long since graduating.  The other speakers were John Philips (he spoke about the worlds and utopias within postage stamps) and Curtis Bartone (he spoke about fictional dystopia/utopias) , and the panel was chaired by Beauvais Lyons.

I plan to make a post on The Big Print soon. :)