P R E S E N C E
edition of 6
13cm x 16cm
Papers: Somerset and South Bank book smooth plus outer wrap of tracing paper sealed with a fragment of Somerset
A collaboration between Alex McIntosh (etchings) and David Armes (letterpress + texts).
I first met the printmaker Alex McIntosh when we were both working out of the Artlab printmaking studio at the University of Central Lancashire in 2015. After a few months of talking about our work generally, the idea of a collaboration came up. When our individual work there came to an end, Alex gave me a plastic bag filled with offcuts and test versions of his etchings. The images (and fragments of images) were dense and almost impenetrable. I carried them with me through a house-move and a studio-move. Every so often I'd spread them out over a work surface and see if there was a way in.
Collaboration is always rife with the unspoken. Who leads? Who follows? Do either of you? How much can you alter someone's work? How much can they influence your own? In this case, I took liberties. Because Alex's work almost completely filled each sheet, I overprinted his work and then overprinted again. Next I cut the sheets, on both axes, turned them through degrees and printed again. Each time I processed his work I would put it back in the plastic bag and file it away, often for months at a time.
Eventually, after around a year of not looking at the work, I laid out all the printed sheets once more. This time, I realised it demanded to be a book and needed to have some degree of white space between the darkness of the overprinted sheets. To both allow a way in to the imagery and to provide impact when those pages were reached. This happened quickly, almost without thinking, guided by the previously processed pages.
The final book talks about "the unseen". It's about what can be intuited through a dense display of visual information, rather than what is directly said.