In June, for Print Festival Scotland, I was asked by GeneratorProjects to make a piece for a really interesting project. Myself and Rachel Lee each made an original print in response to the historical archive of Dundee Printmakers Workshop Ltd and The Seagate Gallery. Our prints were exhibited alongside our chosen material from the archives, in the Generator Collective Space.
It was interesting indeed to read about the rise and fall of this important artist-led organisation, especially in a time where the arts are still precariously underfunded and undervalued. We, as young artists, have felt these changes going on in our political climate to a sometimes devastating degree. Many of my friends are balancing up to 5 part time jobs (mostly not even arts related), usually all low or zero hour contracts which offer no routine, incentive, or self confidence in their future - or themselves.
Looking through the archive was quite a contemplative experience for me. A large collection of posters for shows long taken down, old magazines, newspaper cuttings, and old slides of Dundee in 1988, the year I was born.
Generator, as an artist-run space (formed in 1996), was particularly interested in this aspect of artist-led activity. With the sad closing of the Tin Roof premises this summer, this subject was especially poignant. I truly believe that any physical space where artists can gather together, with freedom of thought and speech, must be treasured. Inspiration, self confidence, and respect does breed collaboration and success, which in turn inspires dialogue and true change. This of course also benefits the wider community, not just artists as an insular group.
After considering all of this, I decided to title my print 'Place'. A physical space or a place in the world? Both are relevant. The hands are a recurring motif of mine recently, and generally represent people. Here they are together, forming a structure. Are they holding the structure together, or pushing, clutching, climbing, or falling?
Behind the hands is a Monoprint (Gelli Plate) I made in the DCA Print Studio, whilst talking to the inspirational artists who come in regularly to make their work. I love to be reminded that you can make a life for yourself working as an artist. Speaking to the lovely people around the studio and checking out their work is very motivational. Many of them will have worked in Dundee Printmakers Workshop, or have visited/exhibited at Seagate Gallery.
The colours in my print were taken from some archive posters that I felt most drawn to, and the shape of the structure the hands are making references a spiral piece by Wanda Golkowska, which was in one of the magazines included in the Archive.
The final piece is about 70 x 100cm, and has 3 silkscreen layers. The way I layered the colours there is a huge overlap, because I wanted it to look like what it is, a screen print. Kind of referencing Sister Corita and other brightly coloured, deliberately mis-registered pop art prints.
You can see this print right now in the print space (above the shop) at Dundee Contemporary Arts. It won't be up for too much longer though, so be quick! I don't usually like to break down my work in so much detail, but for this project I felt like doing so. I think the project will be ongoing, too, so watch out for other related things happening!
Special Thanks: Lynne McBride, Annis Fitzhugh, Elaine Shemilt, Paul Harrison, Scott Hudson, Rachel Lee, Steph Masterson, Alan Beveridge