A series of steps

A new project in the studio

French Connections
Australian Print Workshop
July – August 2018

Mark by mark, feather by feather, "the little things are important, Mr. Wind-Up Bird" (Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle).

Mark by mark, feather by feather, this is the view, at the moment, as we work on a suite of prints made with the Australian Print Workshop for our part of French Connections. But things are already changing, as more of the copper plate is revealed, stroke by stroke, dash by dot. A suite of images based around the idea of what we cannot undo, what we cannot put back, in turn finds us trying to keep up. We are translating our digital collages to the plate, and learning as we go.

Using collage solely as a means to generate a new composition to draw is something we've not tried before, and it is exciting to think: how will we draw those ears like mountain peaks? The creatures we saw, and the creatures we imagined we saw, both free and lost, are now pinned into our photographs of Château de Malmaison, and ready to be drawn or in the process of being drawn on the plate. Ready, wobble, go!, our unintended mantra.

Building upon the steps beforehand, we are creating pairs of images (one lithograph, one etching, two prints in conversation) which are a call and response from Melbourne to Paris, past to present, and between the two of us, and the two mediums. Stemming from what we discovered working on the tiled black swan from Josephine's gardens, the beginning of our journey, we still find we like being thrown in the deep end, making work we had not envisaged at the outset — the very point — and feeling bare in the process. Our six-tiled swan, with one of Napoleon's three golden bees, at this stage, pads beneath the descriptive title, We carried these plates half way around the world and back again before drawing on them, and our plan is to hand-colour the coastal ring of the drop-anchor drawing. At the outset, I might add. Things may change, as feathers moult. Things may change as test plates reveal new possibilities.

We have filled sketchbooks with studies, practicing and pushing through regardless of the outcome, practicing and pushing through and making new outcomes because of the process. In a bid to animate specimens, unfastening them from their timber mounts, only to fix them where we long, we have got up close to the Leadbeater's possum, the numbat, the Gouldian finch, and the sugar glider. We have tried our paws and wings at stone lithography, and witnessed our washes become less than a trace. Dressing a rodent, like a tailor, whisker by whisker, is quite slow. And it doesn't matter if you cross your tail or not on the quest for a (temperamental) "series of harmonies" (Édouard Vuillard).

He could see the honey, he could smell the honey, but he couldn’t quite reach the honey.
— A.A. Milne

We have far to go, and it is exciting.

Keep an eye on @gracialouise to see more of our new work unfold. There's no turning back now.