Environmental Breakdown Communicated through Meaning and Making- Use of Splitting, Tearing, Stretching, Ripping Paper Foundations with Screen Printed Imagery of Splintering and Fracturing of Natural Forms, Shape, Line and Texture
My material-led investigations continued through the use of MDF and different paper types to exemplify my relationship with what is happening within the natural environment through excess consumption and waste, to communicate themes of fragility and beauty through reuse, repurposing, found and reclaimed materials. In using waste products like MDF beauty could be realised, of reconstructing the surface quality to convey broken splintered parts through the different fragmented and fractured paper types. In being increasingly freed up and confident to be more expressive I increasingly scaled up the size of the MDF from previously successful smaller screen printed MDF sheets to work intuitively to create more explorative and expansive works. Given that the MDF absorbed the printing inks well and the paper types selected had also proven to relate and respond positively to the printing inks such materiality suited the process, tools used, pressure applied, colour palette favoured and the gestural application of the printing inks through the use of small squeegees. Previous sampling processes using a range of environmentally friendly paper types helped to inform the screen printing and weaving processes as their qualities and properties were increasingly known to aid selection and use.
Through extensive exploration and experimentation with different paper types previously as well as more recently I could relate best with rice paper, tissue paper and newsprint. Through experimenting with different densities, structure, and degrees of fragility of each category of paper type I was able to understand their composition and construction more fully, to know what I could achieve. I therefore felt confident that each paper which was selected would create a mixed base layer alongside the MDF which would respond favourably to the printing inks, accurately reflect my context and what I wished to communicate. Each paper type came apart differently in line with its overall construction. The rice paper related well to the different degrees of pressure applied through being twisted, folded, and stretched. The tissue paper disintegrated readily as so sheer, the paper broke down and fractured. The newsprint ripped, split open and pulled apart readily. All paper types used suited the narrative and what I was trying to convey and as such felt more akin to marine and coastal fragmentation and breakdown. Each paper type was soaked and adhered flexibly to the MDF A4 sheets with wallpaper paste. Once left to dry naturally and to fade the nine A4 3 mm MDF sheets were screen printed onto using a mixed range of techniques including resist and relief, varying degrees of pressure with increasingly gestural and expressive squeegee use. The colour palette for the screen-printing processes evolved from seaweed research from which specific mixes of printing inks were realised which were dulled down to produce worn and antiqued versions of the colours below. Seaweed was selected given its positive environmental impact, of its amazing carbon dioxide uptake and storage capacity; kelp for example takes in five times more carbon than most land-based plants and can grow at an average rate of 61cms per day. Seaweed can remove toxins from seawater as it grows to reduce the effects of pollution.
From learning gained through the initial sampling processes including the use of resist this was further exploited in much larger MDF 6mm panels. The use of ripped and torn newprint acted as resist to create increased areas of contrast and interest, to promote the use of texture within the print. Given the detailing created through the paper use, layering effects through resist and colour palettes this was replicated within the larger scale work through the preferred use of rice paper and the dull taupe, chartreuse green and light-mid grey colour scheme. The rice paper out performed the other paper types with its capacity to be distorted, twisted and fratured with wallpaper paste. The feel of the rice paper, its overall whiteness coupled with how well it accepted pressure and the printing inks made this paper the ideal choice for larger scale work. The dull taupe and light-mid grey printing inks worked particularly well together as both colours accentuated the textural components of the fractured, splintered and split paper with its many folds, twists and torn elements amplified through such colour use. Each MDF panel progressively used less rice paper with more splintering and increased areas of MDF on show to emphasise the context of environmental breakdown, disintegration and disappearance, of gradual loss, decline and extinction.
From using some resist within the initial sampling processes using the smaller A4 MDF sheets an increased range of resist was used from different paper types including newsprint across the three larger panels which focused upon the torn and ripped edge in resist and print. I enjoyed this process of arranging the resist to intuitively feel what was right, to create additional complexity through pressure and tension. I felt a direct correlation with what I was making and the materials I was using with my context of environmental threat, of the increased loss of marine and coastal ecosystems from sight, of creating my own very personal response.
Instead of continuing to use exposed imagery from prior and more recent collage and art work centred around natural surface textures as I had for the smaller scale sampling processes and the first two screen printed layers of the larger MDF panels I created my own hand cut imagery for the third and forth layers. Since I wished to create a very personal reponse to marine and coastal environmental fracturing and splintering it felt right to individualise the related imagery for screen printing the final layers. Using a blank rectangular screen I used ripped and pulled apart newsprint to create a range of shapes, line and textures across the three panels to create a sense of flow to accentuate the dynamic nature of environmental fragmentation and disappearance. I felt the light and mid-grey printing inks offered heightened contrasts and dynamic fisson through creation of the abstracted shapes with ragged and torn edging which replicated this sense of something being broken and destroyed with real intent like glass fracturing which cannot be undone.
From the mixed range of processess including techniques impactful imagery was created. From the outset I felt increasingly in tune with the material use from waste products and my developing relationship with MDF which was such a well behaved substrate. The use of the preferred colour scheme situated me at the coast especially the tonal range of the blueish-greys used with the dull taupe and charteuse green, I could feel, smell, see, touch the seaweed, taste it in the air through the bracing wind off the Fife coast and on the Forth esturary as if I was back there once more. I experienced a sense of flow whilst screen printing which I covet as I am fully enveloped in the process at such times, fully immersed within the making to create through meaning and the felt sense. I felt completely commited to creating imagery that I could feel and which could be felt by the observer, of the traumatic forces at play to fragment, disintegrate and devastate. Through getting to know all the material in use, of relating closely I could create the shapes, line and texture which best communicated the raw and viseral effects of environmental destruction.
From the screen-printing processes weave was integrated through using the MDF panels, a mix of paper types including tissue paper and used 3mm black tarred marline rope. The sheer and delicate white tissue paper was woven round the rope through pulling apart, twisting, ripping, and fragmenting the paper when doing so to expose areas of the rope. The tissue paper was attached through the application of wallpaper paste to the rope. The moulding capability of the rope was further enhanced as the paper naturally dried onto the rope hard and stiff in the open air. The tissue paper was left for hours to naturally degrade and bleach. Both the tarred marline rope and the tissue paper took on an increased sculptural quality and capacity as it inhabited the space. The smooth and greasy eco-friendly marline rope was made from 100% natural hemp flax yarns to seize and serve standing and running rigging and netting on traditional vessels. That said I felt transported back to being on old well used boats at sea when handling such materials which acted as the core of the weave. With the adhered tissue paper dried there was further breaking down of the paper through scratching and splitting to create further fracturing. Elements of hand printing was applied to the rope, but care was taken to maintain the wear and tear, the disintegrated forms of tissue paper throughout the length of the rope. The tissue papered rope held it shape and form well to act as an accompanying sculptural appendage to the panelled MDF screen through weave, of its purposefully loose and dishevelled construction-messy, unkempt, and disturbed, unravelling like the vestiges of what has been left from marine and coastal waste.
Through assembling the three large MDF sheets as a panelled screen which was free standing, I felt this was more conducive to the integration of the woven black tarred marline rope as warp and weft across the screen printing. As I worked I enjoyed touching the cracked, fractured and split tissue paper which was adhered to the rope, the touch reminded me of the sensations felt on boats with the fraying and fragmented tissue paper comparable to the old worn and weathered ropes. As the rope was situated on the MDF screen the final configuration was settled on when it felt right and suited the arrangement of the screen printing. I felt that I had progressed significantly to work in looser and more freed up ways with an increased range of materials related with throughout this creative process. I felt more in touch with the materials and as such I was more able to communicate meaning through such relating.