Monday, 24 July 2017

You learn something new every day

Despite evidence to the contrary I am a firm believer that there is no life after coffee. I try to wake myself up with a pot of strong coffee every morning and I still frequently go through the day like a sloth with a spliff.

I AM however, a firm believer that if something is not working and I'm not sure what's wrong with it (and therefore how to fix it) then I just take it to bits, carefully mark up those bits to go back in the right place, in the right order and then reassemble the whole thing and it will likely work fine.

How do I know this? Simple. I've done it a thousand times.

For the last three months my wonderful etching press has been out of commission as I was getting nothing but creased prints coming from of it! I tried everything I have ever learned and more, in my forty (almost) years worth of significant etching experience to fix the problem. Then David Rochat, the press maker finally came up from England, took it to bits and gave it a full maintenance overhaul. Once reassembled, we carefully reset everything and I was treated to witnessing (and practicing under expert guidance) the craft of some serious fine-tuning. Guess what? It works. I think digital techs got this from us, only they don't always have to take anything to bits...just switch it off, leave it for thirty seconds and switch it on again.

So the moral of this wee story is that as etching master at the Glasgow Print Studio, its good to know that there is always more to learn. Even better when I was able to learn it some of it.

About the new work...

So what has this to do with the new work launched on line?

Well, at first glance not a lot unless you count learning something new every day. The text in lower panel of the mezzotint "History repeating or counting out time?" (above) reads "philosophical approaches to the question of veracity equipped with the finest intellectual..." blah blah blah. In other words, it's drivel, designed to baffle us with seemingly rational opinions and arguments instead of presenting the facts as we currently know them. It's also a comment on the whole exposure of the fake news industry sweeping through the media. The main image of the doves on the exploding hourglass, along with the title maybe points to the consequences of this and of our willingness to believe so as to justify our own narrow-mindedness or prejudice.

It's hinted at again in the etching/mezzotint "An audacity of imagination". The text here seems to suggest more opinionated drivel, but it finally admits that the task of the so called heretic is to "tell the truth...and run". Often it is the heretics of the day that become history's prophets.

I started both of these prints in Jerusalem at JPW (Jerusalem Print Workshop) during last summers residency. They have taken ages to complete. But they are now on-line for you and can be seen here at, along with three much larger scale mezzotints and a new digital composition.