Well, I’m into my fifth day of the Castlemaine State Festival and have had quite a few folk come into the studio to chat and watch me work. I have to admit it was daunting, at first. As another printmaker and I discussed during her visit, as well as being creatively satisfying, art-making is also isolating. Rarely do we work with others, usually preferring to focus entirely in solitary confinement on our projects. It’s a challenge being observed, explaining techniques and holding a conversation at the same time. It’s becoming easier with the doing.
There have been many favourable comments, which is always a boost to the morale of one who sometimes wonders what others ‘see’ when I follow my own passions, in techniques and subject matter. It’s also interesting to watch the reactions and hear comments regarding the two altered books included in my ‘Pressing Issues’ exhibition. One visitor asked if she could browse through the book, and did she need to wear gloves.
Months of work have gone into the making of the books – designing, sketching, cutting the blocks for the wood cuts, printing, writing or ‘finding’ relevant poetry to include, and of course the altering with page manipulation, painting and handmade stamps and image transfers (always unpredictable). Even so, as a lover of books, altered or not, I believe they are meant to be held in the hands, the pages turned, the verses read, the images studied. No, there are no gloves. This is a tactile as well as visual experience.
Individual prints are fragile. They can be marred with rough or thoughtless handling. Generally, if a print is unframed, it is behind some form of protective cover. There is no protection for the ‘naked’ prints in the altered books, nor on the art cards that contain original woodcuts. That’s the way it is. Enjoy – with care and clean hands.