I have always had a fascination with insects. They are nature’s perfect, tiny hydraulic machines. With their armour, stiff joints and antennae they have adapted and survived for millennia. They are stripped down to the most basic state of existence and perceive the world on a chemical level. Yet their societies are of a highly ordered complexity. Without parental guidance, they are natural born engineers, alchemists and masters of camouflage as their skills are hardwired in. Western culture for the most part ignores them and mainly treats them with disdain. They bite and sting, are banished from our homes and are viewed primarily as pests.
But I think bugs are beautiful. Blown up microscopically they become abstract art: when a butterfly wing is enlarged a thousand times it has the appearance of myriad brush strokes resembling the beauty of a stained glass window.
In my printmaking I experiment with new techniques in the copper plate etching process, combining varied and unconventional ‘ground’ (acid resist) rendering methods. On the plate I apply any combination of hard, soft or lift ground, Sharpie marker or photocopy transfer to create the image of an insect. The plate is then placed in a ferric chloride (acid) bath and the unprotected areas are etched lower to create a ‘relief’ surface into which the ink is rubbed.
Employing a system invented by Stanley William Hayter involving the use of a soft roller followed by a hard roller, the plate is inked with two or more colours. As the plate and wet paper are run through the press the three colours combine to create a deeply vibrant and rich image.
My intention through the slightly abstracted depiction of insects is to make the seemingly insignificant interesting and beautiful.