Lying in the sun whilst the kids where whirling around me a few weeks ago I had an image pop in to my head that I needed to make. One of those ideas that float about and you just happen to be there at the right time in the right place and boom you know what you want to do (see Elizabeth Gilbert and her Big Magic for further explanations). I try not to shy away from these, they can be so structured and resolved that I know I will be sooooo disappointed wresting with myself and my abilities to recreate that amazing thing that just appeared like magic in my minds eye. I take it with a pinch of salt, take the essence of it and see where I can take it, what my soul and energy can bring to the imagery rather than locking it down in the format that it was given to me from heaven knows where.
Part of the image was an enso like circle printed right at the end and I knew exactly what to use to make it and so the hunt for the limpet shell was on. I had remembered that Mr Mini had picked a huge one up on the beach in Abersoch last summer and we had bought it home where it had danced between my studio and the garden. In fact I had seen it the day before on the garden path but was it there now when I knew it had a job to do other than just being a bit groovy and all shell like? Was it heck. It had disappeared in to the ether with a story line from the kids that Muttley had eaten it as is her want. The next 3 days were spent with every dog walk, generally in the wind and rain, searching for another limpet shell as large as the one we previously had. I came home with all sorts and nothing was quite big enough. I then decided that really I was just wasting time and I needed to strike whilst the iron was hot and start at least making the beginnings of the prints, the bit I needed the limpet for wasn’t needed until right at the end any way.
It felt so good to get out the printing press that I haven’t used in a few months and the gelliplate to make the feather monoprints from. It enables me to get the most detailed prints from the most delicate items. I love feathers (as I am sure you have realised by now), they have such a fragility about them but also this awesome strength. I think they are the perfect summing up of the human condition. A set of contradictions all held together with a generous purpose of flight and warmth.
The piece that surprised me the most was the one that started life as the print I was using to blot the ink on the plate, it was enabling me to take a clean print of the feather. The contrast of the negative space being so bright amongst the surrounding colour, the patchwork of the striped lino-cut like the patterns made on a chart of life, time lines all stitched together with the splash of neon pink that the limpet shell made as a stamp of finality to the prints. The spaces left when someone you love leaves and how the grief is sewn in to the very essence of who you are. It becomes the fabric of your life. The space never filled, you just shape your life around whats left. It’s always a surprise how the imaginings in my head become a creative reality.