The Sum of Its Metaphors


Following on from the More Than The Sum posts. Y’know what? this week I finally completed the project! 18 months since the initial brief, the planning, the researching, the thinking and playing began. 16 collaged portraits which will be hanging in their final home tomorrow.

Almost all art has at least one metaphor. Sometimes it’s a visual message, daft or clever, subtle or blatant. And often times it’s something that shows itself in the creative process.

This piece was always going to be heavy on the metaphor. It’s to be displayed in the reception area of the National Spinal Injury Centre at Stoke Mandeville hospital, so it will be seen by hospital staff, the patients, their families, friends and dear ones. It’ll become part of the back drop to a range of emotion – shock, fear, interminable waiting, hope, intensity, perseverance, dedication, and so much more. Purpose-wise, top level: it’s bright, colourful, and a visual distraction. Close up their road-map qualities show up and the faces almost disappear. They might be a place to get lost in for a while.

But the meaning goes deeper than that.

As you know, the collages are made from intricate screen print/drawings which was the first of the metaphors – the repeating patterns, the tiny detail – the repeated exercises of physio and occupation therapies, the gradual steps toward more independence. The incredible patience and strength of character this demands from all involved. Layer on layer of print and drawing – day after week after month of incremental progress in recovery.

The metaphor that shows up in the process: How life is so contradictory sometimes.

Wouldn’t you think you’d see something better close up. You would, though, wouldn’t you?
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….apart from when looking too closely at something makes it vanish. From a distance: there it is. No doubt. Get closer and it fades out of sight. WTF? Really? Yes. Something like not being able to see the wood for the trees… perhaps.

These are some of the metaphors. Tomorrow I’ll show you the completed work, and describe the rest of the message.

More Than The Sum Of Its Parts – Part Next


I want to draw together some of leftovers and dangling ends from recent posts. The person who will enable this is Franz Ackermann.

Faceland/White Crossing I - Ackermann
Faceland/White Crossing I – Ackermann

There’s a charm to this portrait that hooked up in my head with the (so far very much) unconnected themes I was juggling. It was my missing link. Ackerman’s brought the map like quality in, and that high contrast, vector style I love as well.

So, am I going to show you the portraits now… or am I going to keep you hanging on?

Well, kinda neither…

The screen print portraits are still a work in progress as other priorities have leapt the queue in my sphere of makings.

But I’ve been dabbling with other prints and watercolor doodles. The first of which is………
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More Than The Sum Of Its Parts – Part 3.5a


Did I tell you how much I love to screen print? There’s something of an alchemy in screen printing I never knew til I began to experiment. If you enjoy an unpredictable path to imagery I urge you to give this a try if the opportunity comes your way. It’s the most magical thing!

For instance: painting the screen with Procion (fabric) dye at letting it dry, then printing with white ink on white paper, you get this kinda effect of a shadow, dimensional kinda thing.

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A similar process is described here by Kerr Grabowski

The photos are poor quality (from phone, wobbling with giddy excitement at the print!) but you get the idea.IMG_3516

Then there’s the masking off areas with torn paper, and going back to doodle in the gaps. Some overprinting and joining the overprints in the same way

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White on black on white; orange and blue on monochrome, semi-opaque, translucent and solid intense blockiness. Go on, let the imagination do the running! Let the ideas fly.

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Oh, but wait a mo, didn’t this have something to do with self portraits? isn’t that where we began?

Did the gecko run off with the wrong end of the conversation and get lost down another rabbit hole?

Maybe, maybe not.

Check back again and we’ll see if these loose ends can be knitted back up into something resembling a thing again. (A real thing? well, maybe, yes)