Friday 29 September 2023

Making 'Below the Pike', my RA Summer Exhibition 2023 print

Since August 2022, I've been experimenting with textured, colourful collagraph techniques to create semi-abstracted landscapes. One of them, loosely based on Stoodley Pike, above Todmorden, in Yorkshire had an extreme vertical composition and a sense of layering which I found interesting and suggestive of depth and space. This is the print I decided to submit for the RA Summer Exhibition. 

'Below the Pike'

I had thought of submitting in previous years - and almost managed it in 2022 - however the MA course gave me new courage and tutors have been encouraging us to get our work out and apply for as many  opportunities as possible, so finally I submitted in January 2023, after making sure I could replicate the work in a small edition.

Drying on boards

I've included a few images of the process of making the work. It's inked up with multiple colours at the same time, later ink is wiped off, firstly with scrim (a mesh-like tarlatan cloth material), then newsprint, before putting the plate through the press. Here's the plate:

The plate

On the press

My work was shortlisted, so I delivered the framed piece to the Royal Academy, with great excitement in May 2023. 

Delivering to the RA at Coronation time!

'Below the Pike' made it to the wall - high up in Gallery 5, where I found it (eventually) on 'Varnishing Day', now a preview event only for exhibiting artists, previously the day when paintings were varnished before being exhibited. 

Exhibitor pass

Varnishing Day with fellow exhibitor Mo Nicolai

It was amazing to see the Summer Exhibition from the inside! I was convinced my work was too high to attract much attention, but I didn't mind because it was on the wall in the Royal Academy! 

It's high up!

However, fabulously 9 of the limited edition of 10 sold during the Summer Exhibition, which ran from 13 June to 20 August. The remaining print is still available online through the Royal Academy sales site, until 30 November. What an incredible experience. I plan to keep submitting every year now, just in case!

A huge thank you to everyone who visited, bought and supported me on this fantastic journey.

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