Recovered / Recorded was presented on the Caseroom Press table at Small Publishers Fair, Conway Hall on 9-10 November. This afforded opportunities for P and I to discuss the project face to face alongside conversations with fellow exhibitors and visitors in response to questions around objects discovered in gardens.
P and I exchanged stories of making processes including challenges, successes and technical skills developing. We began to consider the potential of this project, and some consideration was given to C9 which was the one fragment P and I had both selected to be represented. We discussed the idea of making larger prints which combined imagery from these first books and extended each fragment to reveal the imagined whole object it may have been originally part of. These could be linked to more objects and perhaps the original/imagined owners of the china.
As visitors and fellow exhibitors stopped to view books on the table, conversations were entered into with those interested in Recovered/Recorded. Stories of objects being found in gardens were invited to be recounted, shared and documented in response to a pre-prepared series of 10 questions substantiating our areas of interest. Approximately 8 questionnaires were given out on day one in response to stories revealing:
- the burying of barbie doll heads as a child
- the finding of a stone head in a garden which is ‘a bit strange’ and now ‘lives on a shelf in the house’
- the finding of lots of pottery and ‘even whole glass bottles’
- the finding of a grenade
- the storing of found objects within a cabinet of curiosities
Following on from the initial success of sales and conversations at SPF, P and I will now send the questionnaire to friends and family before Christmas in the hope of gathering further stories to make use of within the development of this project in the New Year.
In consideration of the 8 pieces of china selected, I began by arranging these sequentially in response to grid numbers attributed by P within first cataloguing. Interestingly this resulted in each of our 4 fragments being presented alternatively. As I explored the arrangement of these within each page of the book,I began to play with composition rotating each fragment to create a sense of rhythm through the resulting positive and negative shapes discovered.
Two tracings were made of the final page layout, and having sent one to P, I made use of the second to trial linear mark making in order to imply the earth around each fragment of china when it was discovered. I decided to use the process of drypoint etching and began by working on top of the outline of each fragment taking note of the first trial to keep a sense of movement to the mark making. Within the printing process, I explored alternative approaches to inking the plate which resulted in different depths of tone surrounding the fragments. As I made the work, I began to prefer the darker tones which provided a greater contrast to the white shapes.
The prints produced were left to dry over the weekend and I returned on Monday to mark the cutting lines in order to send to P for trimming and folding. At this point I realised the process of drypoint printing had reversed the original composition and these prints would not be the same as the Recorded prints P had already produce! As there was no time to re-make the plate and re-print, I selected my favourite drypoint and used the copier machine to reverse the image onto a medium weight recycled cartridge paper. Unfortunately this lost the quality of the individual print and the thickness of the fabriano paper which I could return to later in the project. Some alterations were required with depth of tone and the placement of the print to avoid a white border around the image, although as this is a process I have used before this was reasonably straightforward and the prints were posted to P in time.
Having received the tracing and layout from T of the china pieces, this week afforded the opportunity to start work on the Recorded book. As most of the decisions have been made via texts, reviewing our message history ensured I was using the correct dimensions. At this point I noticed a small anomaly with the size – to ensure the folding and making of the books are accurate – a quick visual and an email to T enabled a small issue to be resolved.
Whilst the layout has been pre-determined, I have not made a final decision regarding the print process that I intend to use, therefore working with images of the china, each piece had to be manipulated and saved in two different ways (a full colour version, and a grayscale version). Rather than using photographs, I scanned the china, and this enabled the size and scale of each piece to be in proportion to one another. The most difficult part of this process was rotating each piece to replicate T’s layout… by trial and error I finally resorted to placing the tracing over the laptop screen to ensure greater accuracy, although this was not an exact science.
Test prints next week will enable a decision to be made regarding the print process. Paper stock will also be sent from T, to see if a match is possible, otherwise different stock will be used for each book. Other decisions have related to the front cover and use of typewritten adhesive labels, and we will research the idea of archive bags to contain the pair of books.
Having agreed to the content of a new project, a series of 9 email exchanges alongside 34 text messages over 16 days has enabled us to take some steps forward.
Decision making began with the organisation of all found fragments as a labelled photograph which was shared by P via email. This enabled the individual selection of 4 pieces of china each to be represented in the book. Whilst we both later admitted to making this selection without using any pre-determined system or pattern, interestingly one choice overlapped and C9 was chosen by both of us.
The exchange of written conversations has enabled a different form of decision making to take place, and the thinking through of ideas has been undertaken as questions inviting comments. This open ended approach has resulted in the shared clarification of design decisions and technical details. The use of photographs within emails from P has very much supported this process and mock ups of the final books were presented alongside written ideas. This aided decision making around choice of scale and presentation of the final 2 books. The final email decision centred around choices connected to the positioning of each fragment within the book. In response to this a tracing will be made to document the arrangement of fragments so that both of us work to the same format.
A series of book titles were also proposed by P – a joint decision was made to call book 1 – Recovered and book 2 – Recorded, titles that reflect the individual nature of each edition. As we hope to use Small Publishers Fair as a platform to gather information for part two of this project, a set of initial questions was also received, using these as a starting point, we will formulate a final list which we can use both at the Fair, and as a questionnaire to friends and family.
P has sent me the selected 8 fragments so that I can explore the positioning of each piece to document their discovery within the ground and make tracings which we both can use. I am keen to develop my own printmaking practice and will take on board compositional formats seen in A Slice through the World, the recent exhibition at Modern Art Oxford (https://www.modernartoxford.org.uk/event/a-slice-through-the-world/) In particular I will draw upon the ‘floating’ compositions seen in the work of Lucy Skaer and ‘overlapping’ compositions seen in the work of Kate Davies within the construction of a drypoint background for the fragments.