Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Screenprinting the ocean


I laid out the poem a fortnight ago for it to be set into a screen prior to last night's class, so I was already at one remove from it. It's a poem I wrote at the Manchester Art Gallery last year, in response to a drawing by Hondartza Fraga. We were to make several prints of it, in the first hour of the class, so picking colours of paper and then mixing up ink was a speedy affair, overshadowed by the enormous frame we were to work with. With no previous experience of screenprinting there seemed a lot of potential fuckup points to it. Throughout the hour I was focusing on the paint: flooding it, drawing it back; the frame: propping it, setting it; the angle of pull: tippie toes, forty five degrees, pressure. It was me and this large levering machine, which felt as far it might get from writing a poem.

Then the covers: more colour choices, more folding, cutting gluing, tucking, wiping. The poem was lost to my consciousness, hidden away inside quick decisions, physical activity and the desire to get it right. So when I came to open the completed book and read it, I was strangely moved, in a way I've not experienced with a piece of my work before. It was familiar but unknown; mine but also somebody else's (I hadn't chosen the design, after all). I opened the booklet awkwardly, struggled to find the start of the poem, read it slowly, unsure of how clear the ink was on the paper in the folds, and closed the book with the sense of the poem in my hands, the poem had become the thing it was describing, the thing I was holding. It was both an embodied and disembodied experience. Unsettling, sad. It was the poem. The poem had enveloped me. I feel that means it's active, sparking. I think I'm pleased.

2 comments:

Jane Eagland said...

Hurrah! (That the poem lives) Love the colours....

Sarah Hymas said...

thanks Jane, sadly the lettering coincides with the folds so I'm going to have to treat this as an introduction to screenprinting and have another crack at it. Very taken with the quality of the ink so will definitely have another go :)