Presence of Nature – The Process of a Body of Work
At first glance each artwork may look relatively simple. However, there is a long process involved for each piece to come to life. Over several month I collect twigs, leaves and branches I find on my walks here on the South Coast. I select the ones I connect with and turn them into a collagraph printing plate. This involves gluing each found object to a board (not always that simple as they can be stiff and difficult to bend and make stick). Once dry, the collagraph plate is sealed a number of times over several days. Sealing them insures I can use the plate more than once if I choose to, it allows me to wipe off the printing ink after each use.
Then the experimentation process begins. I create many artworks over a number of weeks (about 6 in this case), developing the visual language I wish to portrait in the final body of work. Most of these never make it out of the studio but are important for the process developing the work. Once the work has reached a point where I am ready to create the actual artworks, that are going to be included in the exhibition, the process of creating the 18 artworks takes another few months.
It would have been nice and easy to simply hand over my works on paper to my framer once they were done, but this time I decided to explore a different way to present the artworks. Paper has a unique quality about it, raw and natural like the elements of nature, which this work is all about. So I decided to expose the paper, rather than cover it up underneath glass in a frame. This led to many hours and weeks of research into which materials to use to make sure I would end up with artworks that are of professional standards and archival quality. It is not straight forward creating artworks that can withstand the test of time, especially when you use natural materials such as paper and wood.
Each artwork is attached to a wooden board, that is entirely made by me. I have acquired a mitre saw, nail-gun and a few other handy tools for making my own art panels (and I totally look like a tradie when I do so). I quite like it I must admit. There is something very empowering about owning each and every part of the process creating an artwork. It does require a lot of extra time in addition to creating the artwork itself, but I think it is worth it.
It was a big mathematical and investigative process to choose the right materials. I had to take into consideration the size of my print-press and make sure I made the most of the materials to avoid both financial and material waste. (If someone thinks mathematical skills are not relevant for an artist, think again!)
The end result of the entire process of this body of work, is 18 artworks – collagraph prints, graphite, colour-pencil, ink and acrylic on 300gsm cold pressed Arches paper on wooden board. All materials used in the process are archival and the paper is protected by an acid free varnish, that will keep the paper protected whilst securing its natural raw beauty of it, for you to enjoy.
Gitte Backhausen 2019
I won the Kiama Cultural Grant in 2018 to make this specific exhibition a reality. Thank you to Kiama Council for the support.