Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Memory #17

Featured in this post are selected development stages of Memory #17, a work in progress from Leaves of Absence, an ongoing series of archival pigment prints. For the benefit of first-time visitors to this blog, all of the leaves were sourced from Eucalyptus trees in the Victorian Goldfields town of Newstead and all of the works focus on the virtual absence of Chinese women from the goldfields during the Australian gold rush. (In 1861 the Australian population included 38,337 Chinese men, but only eleven Chinese women). My research includes an investigation of historic Chinese hairstyles.

Initially each leaf is pressed for only a short period - a few days at most - just enough to ensure a flat surface, but not long enough for its colour to fade. A clear acrylic sealer is then applied to both sides of the leaf. At this point (donning my Winsor and Newton Global Ambassador hat) I draw a simple outline onto the surface with a white Winsor and Newton Pigment Marker. The silhouette is completed with a black W&N pigment marker. Although this is by no means the finished work, it is a key stage in its development.

Now the digital component begins. The leaf is photographed with my iPad and a series of filters are applied, all of them from iPad apps and most of them used very differently from the purposes for which they were originally designed. Not for the first time, I have to thank my friend, distinguished iPad artist Deborah McMillion for her suggestions, observations and app advice.

It is not uncommon for me to make dozens of digital proofs, often over a period of several weeks - sometimes months - before arriving at one that meets my satisfaction. This one is no exception. The proofs below (1-4 from bottom) show some variations of the same image in order of its development. Like the other works in the series, Memory #17 is intended to suggest old photographs or postcards, which, like memories, have faded with time.

Selected works from Leaves of Absence will be part of a forthcoming artist book. (See Moth Woman Press HERE and HERE).