Monday, October 29, 2012

Polymer Photogravure

Winnipeg Neighbourhood.
Polymer Photogravure.
11.25cm x 20cm. 2012.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop about Polymer Photogravure at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking. I wanted to learn a new printmaking medium and it was super fun. I was glad I had some background knowledge in photography, screenprinting and intaglio printing, since the polymer photogravure process seems to be a blend of all those processes. After printing a digital file onto a special film, the film, as well as an aquatint screen, are exposed onto the polymer plate in a light unit with UV light. The polymer plate then gets gently washed out with water and aside from drying the plate is ready to be printed (see polymer plate below). Once we figured out the printer settings and exposure times, it seemed to be quite easy. I'm not sure yet how I'll include this technique in my future work since most of my work is not exactly photographic, but I hope to do something with it sometime. 
For the Winnipeg Neighbourhood piece (above) I reverted to an old idea that I have reworked several times already and I keep coming back to. Once again I pulled out some of the photos I have of Winnipeg houses and arranged them in the contact sheet style to create the impression of multiple street scenes of one of my old neighbourhoods. Even though this was initially a photo project about colour, I really like how wonderfully wintery this little print looks in black and white. The contrast worked out well and I still have a nice range of medium grey tones in the buildings. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

McDermot Avenue III

McDermot Avenue III.
Double-Plate Colour Etching, Relief Roll through Stencil.
45.5cm x 45.5cm. 2012.

This last piece in the McDermot Avenue series is the street block between King Street and Princess Street. There are multiple galleries and artists' studios in this block, such as Outworks Gallery, Ace Art, Urban Shaman, RAW, etc. There used to be others, but several have been vacated due to increased rental prices. Each one of the three prints in the McDermot Avenue series shows the interior of a part of the art community of the Exchange District: a frameshop, a studio, and a gallery. In the upper part of this print there is an exhibition opening in full swing with people looking at art, talking, nibbling on some crackers with cheese, and drinking some wine and beer. The gallery space in my print was inspired by Outworks Gallery, an artist run gallery and studio. It is one of my favourite gallery spaces in town and I had my graduation exhibition there in 2007. The lighswitch on the bottom right is part of a  poster board and also the logo (designed by artist Michael Carroll ) of 'IT'S ON - FIRST FRIDAYS WINNIPEG', an art event that happens every first Friday of the month where artists and galleries open their studios and doors to the public. The ceiling in this piece is imaginary since there is no such pretty ceiling in this old warehouse space. I used the pattern of an old ceiling tile that a friend of mine had in her studio. Below is a close-up of the embossing again. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

McDermot Avenue II

McDermot Avenue II.
Double-Plate Colour Etching, Relief Roll through Stencil, Blind Embossing.
45.5cm x 45.5cm. 2012.

The second print in the McDermot Avenue Triptych portrays the corner of Arthur Street. I had my studio on the sixth floor of the Silpit building for three years (see window marked with a red x and the interior in the upper part of this print). I believe the building used to be a clothing factory and there are still thousands of pins in the cracks between the floor boards. If you enlarge the image and look closely you might be able to see them in the print. I loved working in that studio, sharing the space with wonderful studio mates, looking out the huge windows and enjoying the beautiful tin ceiling (there is a  close up of the embossment below). My reason for leaving the studio was our move to Minneapolis, but unfortunately developers are creeping into this wonderful art district and doubling rent prices in many places. Many aritsts and businesses have moved out already and for lease signs are up everywhere. Soon my old studio will be too expensive to afford for my fellow artists, too. Gentrification is happening in so many places, and considering that the old warehouses have lost their original function already, I don't know if I can complain about the recent developments. It is still sad for me to see the art district slowly loosing some of its art spirit. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

McDermot Avenue I

McDermot Avenue I.
Double-Plate Colour Etching, Relief Roll through Stencil, Blind Embossing.
45.5cm x 45.5cm. 2012.

McDermot Avenue I is part of a triptych about three blocks on McDermot Avenue in Winnipeg's exchange district. I'm just about to finish this series in time for my upcoming exhibition at Fleet Galleries in Winnipeg in November. McDermot Avenue is part of a beautiful historic warehouse district that has become a wonderful cultural center with art galleries, artists' studios, frame shops, and other stores. I cherish the memories of walking down McDermot Avenue past the bronze horse by Joe Fafard and the gossiping women (also in bronze), doing business with Jeff at Fleet Galleries around the corner, which you can see in the upper part of this print, and heading to my studio I had in the Silpit building for three years. 
I have ventured slightly out of my usual square format by rounding off the corners of the ceiling to break up all the rigid horizontal and vertical lines. I simply cut off the corners with tin snippers and smoothed the edges with a file. I had a lot of fun playing with the beautiful tin ceiling patterns that are still part of many of those old buildings. If you look closely, you can see I added a blind embossing above the rounded part of the print to resemble the embossed tin ceiling tiles. Below is a close-up. I drew the design, then worked with it in digital format and finally I got it cut into a linoleum plate with a laser cutter. This allowed me to get a very even and intricate pattern that I could never have carved by hand. I'm very excited how well this worked and perhaps I'll find a way to utilize the laser cutter in other ways, although I don't think I'll ever give up the good old traditional techniques. 

Close-up of the laser cut linoleum plate.

Close-up of the paper embossing at the top of the print.