Thursday, 24 February 2011

Beyond the looking glass

Inspired by a variety of factors, high on the idea that I may come up with something interesting, and thinking I had nothing else to do on Saturday, I spent the day creating my first screen print.

I attended a course at Print Club London, a print shop in Dalston with a gallery displaying work on Brick Lane.  The course was only 45 quid for an all day course.  Being obsessed with artists that mainly use the screen print as their medium I was quite curious to learn more about the process.

The course focused on the photo emulsion method of making a screen print, and started with the students bringing in an image that would eventually be transferred to paper and be our screenprint.  Having no artistic talent, and no knowledge of Illustrator, I chose a photographic I took back when I was living in Japan.

To the right you can see the first step of the process, printing the image on a transparent.  Well, this is after altering it in Photoshop.  For my image I needed to change it to grey scale and do something with the bit map that I didn't quite understand.  However, it seemed to have worked out anyway.

Next, we needed to prepare the screens for printing.  We went into a dark room and coated the screens with photo elmusion.  A relatively simple process, it was essentially painting the screen with the chemical that would eventually develop under the late table.

To the left you can see the screen once the image was exposed on it.  This was done by placing the transparent print out on a massive light table and positioning the screen over the transparent.  Afterwards, the light table was switched on for about 20 seconds exposing the emulsion and transferring the image to the screen.

Now it was time to transfer the image from the screen to a piece of paper. 
We were given our choice of colour and then shown how to load the paint and correctly use the handle to spread the paint evenly over the image.

The first thing we needed to do before applying the paint was register the image.  This is shown in the photo to the left.  This was essentially lining up the image with the screen so one is able to know where to put the paper so the image is centered and straight.  We marked the corners with pieces of tape to aid us once we started transferring to the paper.

After we did that, you can see to the right the process of pulling the paint down across the screen on to the paper.  This was repeated 8 times to give us an edition of 8.  While the prints were all obviously quite similar small difference can be spotted in the hand pulled screen print due to volume of paint or the angle of the wiper being pulled. 

Below, you can see the first screen print I made.  An interesting process.  The image I choose would've worked better if we could have created a multi-layered screen so I could have added colour to the Geisha's lips and coat which are bright red in the picture (which is the last picture on this post).

All in all a great day of learning one type of way to transfer an image to paper.  Only £45 I highly recommend it as a great way to spend a Saturday!

The drying rack

Other students' work
The original picture I took in Kyoto.

Friday, 11 February 2011


It's an expensive city.  Actually, that's an understatement.  Paris is an expensive city, Rome is an expensive city, London is prohibitively, shockingly, expensive.  That's why when nights like Thursday come around, you have to jump in with both feet.

Free drinks all night with a side of great art?  Sold. 

The night started with the launch of VNA 14 at the gallery on Brick Lane.  This is the third or fourth launch I've been too and I must say, George and his crew do an exemplary job.  For the first time since I've been reading the zine there was a queue out the door about 30 deep before the show opened.  They were only selling one special edition (the screen printed Sickboy cover, numbered out of 150) magazine per person as they know there's now value to their magazine on the secondary market. 

And, as always, there was plenty of free beer (Desperado and Becks sponsored the evening) and good tunes playing.  The magazine looks (and smells!) great.  The extras were quite nice too with a bunch of stickers and other goodies thrown in.

It's nice seeing the magazine become successful as it's clear the editors are well into art and enjoy writing about it and taking pictures in different countries to capture the scene across Europe.

Would be nice to see them get back to a London artist, thinking they should put Pure Evil on the next cover!

After a couple drinks on Brick Lane I made my way to the main event at Black Rat Projects.  Their shows always rank among my favorite with a great mix of people and art.  For this show it was a mix of both artists they manage and artists they love.  The highlight being an amazing installation Roa did in the middle of the gallery.
Henningham Press print

According to BRP:

Black Rat Projects has for the past four years been supporting and developing the careers of artists whose mediums and techniques are in many ways traditional yet whose practices are infused with an undeniably contemporary interventionist spirit. Our artists are many things but they have all been woodcutters, screenprinters, painters and etchers and we continue to mark their developments in drawing and painting with the prints we publish as Black Rat Press. With 2011’s Printmaking Today we will be releasing new editions by Matt Small, Candice Tripp and what has been our most technically complex printmaking project with Swoon to date. These works will be displayed alongside earlier BRP projects as we contextualise our archive with some of the most important artefact's of contemporary printmaking. Works by Bridget Riley, Lucien Freud, Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili and Grayson Perry are among those on display. In a celebration of process the opening night on Thursday 10th will be an inclusive insight into the fundamentals of printmaking. Stoke Newington’s local printmakers the Henningham Family Press will set up their ‘Chip Shop’ for what will be a performative addition to the exhibition.

Henningham Press prints
The Chip Shop was a fantastic addition to the show, selling screen prints on Chip wood for a pound and bringing a nice attitude and smile to the gallery. 

They had various messages they were printing on the board and were happily taking suggestions from people who they were speaking too.  I think it's always refreshing to see the art made, and realize what the process is, especially when you can then turn and see a 10 colour hand pulled screen print such as the one they were debuting by Candice Tripp.

Henningham Press prints...all three for three pounds!
It was a pleasure meeting Roa and other artists at the gallery, and I'm looking forward to heading back there soon to take it all in again.

Sometimes London really is worth the price of admission.

D-face V&A on the bottom and Obey's Peace Girl

Candace's 10 colour screen print

Banksy Napalm

Banksy NOLA - Green rain
Peace Girl

Hard to capture Roa's installation, I tried the best i could with an iPhone!

Henningham Family Press

A couple choice words for Silky and Vandalog in the toilets!
Hey Vandalog, stick this in your shitty little blog, you dork.  C'mon, that's not nice!



Swoon's print.  Edition of 28.  Amazing print.  Multi-layer collage and handworked print.  It was also HUGE.

Nick Walker

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Street art of Porto

Last weekend, in an effort to escape the low hanging grey clouds that never seem to rise this time of year in London, I hopped a 2 hour flight to Porto for a bit of winter sun and to see the burgeoning street art scene.  I wasn't disappointed with either.

For those who have never been, Porto is the 2nd largest city in Portugal.  Famed for its Port wine, the city was dubbed a World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1996.  As with other cities in Portugal, it's a bit dilapidated, quite cheap and very welcoming.

I spent much of my time getting lost down the various alley ways that plunge towards the Douro snapping pictures of the impressive art that was covering most walls.

Aside from the one gallery I went to, I have no idea who these artists are but there was a lot of skill and originality in most of the work.

The one gallery I did go to featured the work of Rui Sousa.  You can see his work here.  He was born in Valongo, Portugal in 1980. He graduated in fine arts (Faculdade de Belas Artes do Porto), and currently works in Porto. He´s uses the body as an object of study and observation, an element that can be viewed from various perspectives and approaches.  You can see some of his work below.

Rui Sousa

Rui Sousa

Rui Sousa

Rui Sousa

The rooster image was popular owing to the legend of the cock in Portugal.

Thought this was pretty creative.

This person has the image in a lot of locations using a different mixture of messages and colour with the same stencil.

There was a lot of free hand paint but there was the occasional stencil

This was one of the more creative ideas I saw.  This image was stenciled throughout the city and you can see the 'edition' size next to it (16/1000).  I didn't see 1000 but I wouldn't doubt if there were that many. 

More of the birds, think these were 22-24/1000.

Really liked this one.