After raking around the South East for any-old-iron over the last month, I’ve accrued quite a haul of rusted chains to work with. Thanks in particular to Cottage Style Antiques in Strood and Symonds Salvage in Bethersden – two treasure troves in Kent well worth a visit.
Initially I thought I would be seeking handmade, nautical ironmongery for this project, but have ended up opting for more industrial materials. The grasping hooks of a grab-chain, and the spiked links of a security chain seem to better emphasise the brutality of conflict and colonial trade, and will form a greater counterpoint to the fragments of baroque stylings from the Guildhall Museum’s Dutch engravings I’m aiming to imprint them with.
However the sheer weight of these objects may restrict my ability to display the work as I had envisaged, having thought to create a wall hanging when starting the project. Plenty of playtime needed…
As part of the 350th commemoration of the Battle of Medway, Medway Council has awarded 4 printmaking bursaries for an exhibition at Rochester Art Gallery in June 2017, and I am excited to be one of the recipients.
My idea is to use the image of the defensive chain that was raised across the river during the Battle of Medway as a point of departure to investigate the wider theme of chains. The deteriorated chain of command that paralysed the English defence. The unfortunate scapegoat Peter Pett, clapped in irons in the Tower barely before the action was over. Two former imperial powers in conflict, whose histories rattle with the chains of slavery. The inefficacy of the defensive chain as a form of defence, broken as it was by the ingenuity of the Dutch. Now, at a time when once again nations seem keen to throw up defensive chains of their own, politically and economically, this theme seems particularly rich and relevant.
Given my choice of theme, I would like to explore a printmaking process that focuses on iron as a material. Drawing inspiration from the maps and prints of the Guildhall Collection, I would explore laser-engraved imagery and text on iron objects, and the use of iron oxide powder to create an edition of screen-prints on paper. At the Bursary Open Evening I was particularly struck by the Dutch engravings depicting the signing of the peace, and these could act as a strong counterpoint to the brutality of the iron. #Bom350 #OfFireshipsAndIron