Introduction to Screen-Printing.

Screen printing arrived in Europe in the 18th century, but it was slow to catch on as a fabric printing method owing to the high cost of silk mesh at the time. Once the Silk Road made imported silk more affordable, screen printing gradually became a popular way to print fabric. By the early 20th century, printers had developed photo-sensitised emulsions, allowing artisans to create intricate stencil designs much more quickly. In the 1930s, artists began experimenting with screen printing as an artistic medium, naming their new-found form ‘serigraphy’ to distinguish it from industrial printing. By the 1960s, artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi and Andy Warhol were using screen printing to create beautiful art. Dubbed ‘pop-art’, the artist used screen-printing to create multiple copies of a single image, fundamentally questioning what constituted fine art. Warhol’s famous Marilyn Diptych is perhaps the best-known example of screen printing as an artistic form. (Fortune, 2006)

Tecniniton Dave Fortune quite literally wrote the book on waterbased screen printing. In 1989-90 Dave was at the ‘University of Berlin’ researching solvent-free water-based screenprinting, which he brought back to the UK. Based at UWE, we are very lucky to have Dave around to teach and guide us. Screen printing consists of ink being spread over a screen with the chosen design, again using the photo-emulsion screen printing process, The acetate sheet featuring the design is then laid onto the emulsion-coated screen, and the whole thing then exposed to bright UV light. The light hardens the emulsion, which later creates the barrier between the ink and the paper. So the parts of the screen which are covered by design remain in liquid form which is washed away before drying and then printing.

Being familiar with the process meant I needed to challenge my self with the mark-making stage on the acetate sheet and explore otherwise avoided techniques.

Above is the acetate stencil I created for this workshop.

It is having been to a talk on Moiré patterns which is the interference between two periodic objects, that produces a new over-arching pattern that inspired me to use the netting to create one of these patterns.

Moiré patterns can emerge from all manner of scenarios and are particularly prevalent in the digital age. At the talk, we discussed the general types of moiré pattern and how they form, alongside the print maker’s fight against them in half-toning processes, and also how they form the basis of the artwork of Anoka Faruqee.

The dip pen image in Roto Ink (an acrylic ink made with pigments suspended in an acrylic resin binder, so it is light resistant and waterproof) is of Alice Liddell, The 10-year-old girl who as a friend of the author Lewis Carroll inspired the story Alice in Wonderland. As before I wanted to introduce reality into my fantasy; however this time I chose to reverse my thought and use a real person into the no-reference sketched landscape.

Roto Ink washes thinned with methylated spirits built up my landscape. I used a pin to scrap into the acetate for the tree bark. On the mushroom, I worked the ink wash with some sandpaper and used drops of meth alcohol to great the spots on the mushroom hood.

I used photocopied leaves on acetate, which I then cut into smaller leaf shapes and using clear glue I stuck them to the acetate to make the tree canopy. At first look, the leaves I copied are too big, so I reduced them to a small image of leaves. The idea has failed to create the canopy effect I was hoping for. the ‘too big’ leaves would have been better at creating the effect.

A great help came from my classmates Tom and Stephanie. Steph has experience in using screens to print in different artistic ways, i.e. watercolour transfer. Tom works in textile screen printing, primarily custom tee-shirt printing. Tom had a quick way of working and was a great support during the practical element. Admittedly, I did not get a fully printed image on my first two ‘pulls’ of the screen. Tom quickly identified I had the screen too far away from me resulting in my pressure on the screen wasn’t getting the ‘nooks and crannies’ in the stencil. Even pressure is important because the squeegee when pulled across the screen, delivers the layer of ink.

Below is the photo of Steph’s printing area set up.

Despite only having one screen Steph produced a varicoloured image by using tape and card stock to ‘mask out’ areas. Inspired by this, I wanted to have a try at loading my screen with more than one ink.

Below you can see my final prints.

The idea for the Moiré patterns has worked, but I would next time take more care in trying to use them to shape the object or character by creating a tone with the pattens. I’m glad that the sandpaper on in washed acetate has given the ground and the stem of the mushroom a real 3-D feel. Different graphite pencils have helped to build depth and tone to the forest floor but not successfully; harsher marks are needed and darker tones. The two-toned effect of the two colours being pulled through the screen was my favourite success. It really helps the feeling

I would like to try methods such as using masking tape or vinyl to cover the desired areas of the screen like Steph and also Painting the stencil onto the mesh using ‘screen blockers’ such as glue or lacquer.

Influence on this piece

Folk Realism is the belief that they are natural real-worlds outside of our thinking and independent from us. In literature theories, it often can be treated as Eco-Critical but is not always. Folk Realism occupies a liminal place between the normal and the unknown, stories of people we recognise, people we feel we could know, but their lives become damp with myth and legend. There’s a sense that ecosystem, the landscape, the sea, the earth under our feet is claiming back people. Relationship with other metaphysical systems in public opinion is rarely thoroughly examined, but it is not a brand new way of working. Daphne du Maurier had unearthed the Cornish landscape, its dark history and its myths for her novels and stories for some time. Proving Folk Realism works very well at the human psyche and curiosity. Lewis Carroll, who was particularly gifted in geometry and logic; his Alice books contain many reimagined examples. The “Mad Tea-Party”, for instance, has the Hare, Hatter, Dormouse and Alice circling static place settings like numbers on a circle, as in a modular system, rather than in a line. Carroll developed a natural real-world that’s ecosystem was firmly mathematical regardless of the character’s problem-solving ability. (V&A, 2019)

I was intrigued by the article ‘Folk realism: The literature exploring England’s legends and landscapes’ by David Barnett @davidmbarnett published in the Independent newspaper Friday 2 March 2018

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/folk-realism-english-literature-countryside-legends-landscape-nature-gothic-writers-fantasy-a8234691.html

David Barnett is interested in how little it takes to turn our world into a fairytale. It is here in the brisk air of misty mornings, and dark, low sun evenings, I can begin to understand what Barnett is referring to. It is between the two states, modern living and seeking out heritage that a literary genre has been reborn.

We are both in the normal world – cocooned in central heating, connected by phones and laptops, washed in the light from the television – and outside it; isolated, separated, remote. And that is the duality of a current trend in British writing which overlays contemporary lives on the older, darker backdrop of our heritage and folklore.” (Barnett, 2019)

Andrew Michael Hurley’s first novel, The Loney, initially only 300 copies published is a brilliant example of the threshold dividing folk horror and magical realism. The story, The Loney, became the winner of the Costa First Novel Award in 2016 selling thousands more. Based on the vast Lancashire coast, a family are making a kind of pilgrimage to a holy shrine. They want to fix Hanny the brother of the narrator of his muteness. The spiritualism of the family is unorthodox compared to the once-a-week churchgoers. However, it is still believable and has Catholic tones. Things take a darker, almost insidious turn. The locals seem vaguely sinister but not slasher ‘backwards country’ villains, they seem slightly to be following older, less well know ethos.

Hurley builds up the tension towards a climax that is ambiguous yet no less heart-stopping than Edward Woodward’s poor old virgin policeman being burned to death on remote Summerisle while the islanders dance and sing, in Robin Hardy’s iconic 1973 movie The Wicker Man.

HOW DOES THIS PIECE OF WORK FIT INTO THE DEVELOPMENT OF MY PROJECT?

Once upon a time, the West was indigenous. I want to ask the question of what happened to that path and those teachings? Was it that the old Western ways were so wrong and full of witches that it had to be destroyed and replaced by religious that were so much purer? Thousands of years on, is it irrelevant? In my bachelor’s degree, I did a study into the morals refected by authors in children’s literature and one chapter questioned is this influence (if religious or social) Was it an infringement upon or supportive of our culture.

The book by Sharon Blackie called ‘If Women Rose Rooted’ focuses on women finding their voices and their stories again. A quest to find their place in the world, drawing inspiration from the wise and powerful women in native western mythology. She states at the start of her book“We have our own guiding stories, and they are deeply rooted in the heart of our own native landscapes. We draw them out of the wells and the waters; beachcombing, we lift them out of the sand. We dive for them to the bottom of deep lakes, we disinter them from the bogs, we follow their tracks through the shadowy glades of the enchanted forest. Those stories not only ground us: they show us what we might once have been, we women, and what we might become again if we choose. … If women remember that once upon a time we sang with the tongues of seals and flew with the wings of swans, that we forged our own paths through the dark forest while creating a community of its many inhabitants, then we will rise up rooted, like trees.” (Blackie, 2019, p6) Anthropological Folklore and Feminist Criticism Blackie aims to influence our respect and revere feminine outer-selves, and so bring about a culture in which women are respected and admired, recognised once again as holding the life-giving power of the earth itself.

There are plenty of good stories about men in our native European traditions, too. Think of the Grail legends, where only a knight who understands the meaning of compassion – who understands the necessity to gently ask the question ‘What ails thee?’ of the wounded Fisher King – can hope to attain the Grail and help restore the Wasteland.

Lewis Carroll believed that beyond their entertainment value, mental recreations such as games and logic puzzles conferred a sense of power on the solver. This trait, he felt, enabled them to analyse any subject clearly and, most importantly, to detect and unravel fallacies. (V&A, 2019) Do children today still respond to the quest of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis in a self-reflective way? Would they be influenced to act out character traits shared with lead characters from stories? Would our heroes and heroines in our heritage be influential enough? And would literacy devices or trends like ‘Folk Realism’ allow me to engage with young readers sufficient for publishers to care?