My starting point for this print was a very personal sketch I made last year, at a time when I had a significant health scare that resulted in my hysterectomy and removal of my ovaries at the age of 32. I had taken photos of weathered gravestones in Beverley, Yorkshire, and I had recently acquired an old home family doctor book. I combined the two ideas and drew this ‘in memory’ on a page with titled sections ‘womb’ and ‘will making’. I felt that the flourishes on the stonemasonery were similar to the illustration of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
I liked the idea with using a collage of torn pages from the same book for my print, and selected a number of sections on consumption, convalescence and contagions. I also tried out a few colours on a test page to see how they interacted with the paper and each other, and their relative opacities.
I made this initial bleed print to try out a few ideas, and although I liked some elements, I felt that the backdrawn writing in black stood out too harshly from the rest of the print. I liked the way that the backdrawn lines pushed through the ink in a tramtrack fashion by using a slightly thicker layer of ink. I wanted the text to be slightly difficult to read, similar to the weathered stones. The negative space around the stone was masked and printed in yellow-green, a layer of iridescent gold with leaves pushed into the ink was printed over the whole page, ivy leaves were used to print the positive leaf shapes, and lastly the black lines were backdrawn.
For the final print, I printed an A4 area in the centre of an A3 collage. I started by printing a positive masked ghost print of the gravestone in black, following the backdrawing from the previous print taken from the same plate. I then printed the masked green negative space. I printed the darker positive green leaves over the top, followed by a layer of textured iridescent gold as before. Further positive leaf shapes were printed in gold. I then did the backdrawing in burnt sienna followed by black.
I am not sure that I have completely resolved this piece, but can’t quite identify why it isn’t working. I think it may be improved by printing a portrait orientation picture of a whole stone, rather than just the top. The leaf shapes are a little less distinct than I had intended, but I do like the effect of the black ghost print over the collaged paper. It really does look like weathered stone.