Every Point in the Universe is Also the Centre

May 1, 2018 by Olivia Penrose Punnett   Comments (0)

This January I was awarded the Paper Gallery residency, 'Exploring Paper' and spent 6 weeks at the gallery making work reflecting on the history of paper. The resulting show will open this May 19th 6-9pm, If you are in Manchester please pop in for the private view, or if your passing through please pop in to see my exhibition at the Paper Gallery until 23rd.
Here is an excerpt from the Paper press release on the show:
"Every Point in the Universe is Also the Centre is Olivia’s response to paper and its history. Her work has often contained the phenomenology of reflection as medium and subject. One of the earliest uses of paper was as packaging for bronze mirrors in ancient China. For Olivia this became the starting point for the residency and the subsequent work that she developed for her solo show. 

What it results in is an ephemeral reflection on present-ness and time; a flash into clarity for a moment, in printed and photographed form. Within the exhibition Olivia attempts to capture the ephemeral. Shadows are captured from dappled light through trees, and bark is both projected and printed onto paper - traditionally made from the same source. Round mono-prints of traditional Chinese mountain river scenes are stretched into screens and used to catch light from projectors. Large hanging prints on tracing paper echo the glass used in frames and screens; hand made, imperfect and veiling. These layers build and reveal to allow views of different stages of printed work, but never reveal the original, like memories always evading perfect recall." 


Paper Residency Manchester and AA2A

January 15, 2018 by Olivia Penrose Punnett   Comments (0)

This year I received the ‘Exploring Paper’ residency at Paper Gallery Manchester. This runs through January and ends on the 10th of February 2018. Following this will be a solo show on May the 19th.

Researching paper, I found that bronze mirrors were packed in paper in China and because I often use mirrors in my projection work, this is fuelling my work at the gallery and on the AA2A. I have been inking up round mirrors to mono print from, and this circular mirror design is repeating and being reflected across all the work. The photogravure prints made at Derby are taken to the gallery and used to monoprint on also. Mainly I have used a photogravure print of a plain ‘foxed mirror’ background to monoprint on.

The circular mono prints also reference traditional Chinese Mountain River landscape painting or other more abstract forms. Monoprint seems to work particularly well with the watercolours I am using to draw from. Teaching print to Chinese students, I asked them what paper means to them and they described it as being ‘magical’. The mirrors themselves being inked will become black mirrors and reference this.

 The black mirror—an ancient gadget used by artists, magicians and scientists from Mexico to India—offers an insight into another history of “technê” that connected art, science and magic, producing enchanted technology of wonder. European painters used black mirrors to focus on composition, perspective and perception itself.” Svetlana Boym.http://www.e-flux.com/journal/19/67475/the-off-modern-mirror/

 In an earlier sculptural piece from 2016, Something in Between I used berries squashed into the surface of a self made screen, and for this residency I have made mulberry paint to wash back onto the black and white prints, referencing mulberry trees in paper making. Bronze tissue paper and pen is also used to create a berry, bronze and black and white palate across all the work.

This has been the focus of the first 2 weeks of the Residency at Manchester, that and finding my way around. I have also looked at materials and tested different types of paper, and ink. I have mixed in the mulberry paint to the ink also and this has introduced specs of seemed to inked surface and when printed these are areas of no contact. They prints appear dusty or mottled. When I first began printing I always took ink from the crusty surface of the ink pot to print from and not the smooth wet ink below the surface. I enjoy the effect of this and the way it makes prints look inky. I ink my plates up to mono print in heavier ink than clean thinner coats as I enjoy areas the paper unintentionally contacts. Printing on crunched paper or metallic paper also needs heavier ink to transfer the image as it has to get past shine and texture to be read as a whole.

I began at Derby on the AA2A printing nebulae from old glass plate slides and it is these images that I have started to make wall size coverings out of. This is made possible through the Artists Access to Colleges scheme at Derby University. Using the residency period at Paper to be between these 2 sites for making, using the Paper Gallery for the studio installation, mono printing and projection site, and Derby for photo etching and large format printing is so far working well.

Being so close to Chetham Library and the John Rylands Library, I visited these two sites last week.  Next week I also hope to make an appointment with the visual curator at John Rylands to explore any images relating to the history of paper, and the ‘alchemy’ of papermaking.

I now however am starting to feel restricted by working only in 2D, and I realise that, even though I am a printmaker primarily, I need to work more sculpturally now. Mirror, glass, screens, and light projection need to reenter the work now, so the next few weeks I will start to pick up on these materials as well as exploring alternative photography and printmaking methods.

I have started to make wall covering prints to be worked into with mono prints, mulberry washes, and cut into, but need this element to progress further. These will be swapped over, placed on the floor with mirrors, an OHP projector and glass plate negatives.

Next week, Artist and Curator Katherine Mager is coming to collaborate with me at Paper Gallery, and we will look at alternative photography methods together. Katherine will also document this process photographically.

When working in the studio I am trying to get my hands to work faster than my brain and resist the temptation to review, because I know this can only happen in true hindsight. Walking away from the work and ‘sleeping on it’ is so important. It also allows for the things your yearning for to re surface, and be found again. At this point, 2 weeks into Paper Residency, and 2 months into my AA2A, I can see I need to bring more elements together and concentrate on a physical frame to hold this work together or incorporate all the different things cohesively. Screen structures are something I have used before and also marry well with the history of paper. Projection has always used screen also and this is where I want to go next!

Photogravure Adventures

December 20, 2017 by Olivia Penrose Punnett   Comments (0)

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Memory, time and the image are what drive my practice, (the dynamic visual status of remembrance and daydream). In print, this means introducing interruption in the way an image is received, through the process of reprinting, and then again in how it is presented in exhibition. Exaggerating the aesthetics of photo etchings, pushing bleed and blur, or ‘error’, as Boym says, ‘errors’, “capture a manual labour of memory and a “personal” touch that imprints in the images like a disruptive signature”.


Because of this it could either be easier, or harder to compare digital and analogue photo transfer to printing plates. Similarly comparing toyobo photo etching plates, and photo polymer laminated plates, may also be harder or easier to see the effects of. But this is where my starting point is.


The visual effects of digitisation such as dpi and pixilation, are often carried across to plate when using digital photography or an acetate aqua tint screen and image (that is digitally printed) to transfer an image & aqua tint to the plate.

There is here, in my opinion, sometimes a loss of the physicality, and the gestural because of this. I wish to use analogue technologies to reconnect with more traditional etching aesthetics in photogravure, to show human ‘error’, and to re explore mark making; intervening in the process of image transfer and exposing plates.


Another ‘spanner in the works’ however is that the photo’s I use often already contain blur, or are close ups, sometimes microscope close ups.


I have started at Derby by using glass plate negatives to transfer an image to toyobo plate so that no digital effects are introduced. But have had to use an aqua tint screen still.


I then went back to ‘Image On Blue Film’ a photopolymer film, which i feel is closer to traditional etching. A seemingly common feature of photo etching with toyobo plate is an almost clinical precision, which looses touch with the material aesthetic of an etching sometimes. But this could also be flipped to show blur in more detail!


I am now in the process of using both toyobo and photo polymer laminated plates to print with to compare. Again, because I intend to use a photo of the prints to expose a fresh plate to, I will exaggerate the effects of the printing in both mediums to compare this also.


Boym, Svetlana, Nostalgic Tecnologies: multitasking with clouds, Photo works, 05/2012, issue