Monday 28 August 2017

Umbra Sumus Print Project

I found an affordable and plentiful source of rubber printing blocks which are beautifully smooth to carve. Typically my prints mean at least one self-gouging in the fleshy part of my hand even with bench hook and hand guard. Thankfully my valuable meat is safe with these.

They are all 4"x 6" and lend themselves well to small vignettes. I've always been preoccupied with 'leaflet people' the unnaturally normal parents, children, first-time homeowners and serene dog walkers living out their lives in stock photography paradise on insurance leaflets in banks and supermarkets. They exist in Kodak moments, too perfect to be real.

They speak to that gulf between faerie glamour figments of advertisement living we fancy for ourselves and reality; the shaky consensus which we down here on earth rarely agree upon. They read like misremembered deathbed recollections. The inability to cope with that dissonance works itself out a thousand different ways on social media, that vast expression of 'Kilroy was here.'

As a print project I felt they'd work as outline, I used carbon paper to transfer them to the blocks and carved away the negative space. When printed they look like inverted ghosts, I wanted to strip away the colour and facial expressions. It forces a step back from the story being sold. Devoid of all the dressing they become unsettling and grotesque, just like life. I chose the name 'Umbra Sumus' which means 'We Are Shadows' in Latin to reflect the use of reductive methods that pare down the image into it's most basic form, as shadows show our merest shape which is all we are.

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