Last week Marie, the creative brains behind Machair Weave came to visit me in Glasgow. It was a very intense visit both because it was shoe-horned into our busy schedules and because we were quite ambitious about what we could fit into two days!
There was initially some discussion about new ideas we had both had for phase two of the project and we shared some personal thoughts about what sound means to us individually. Marie, being based in North Uist is immersed in natural sounds and plans to continue to use those, specifically bird songs and the sound of wind as a starting point for her work going forward. I on the other hand am sandwiched between three railway lines in my flat so train noises seemed like an appropriate starting point for my work.
We spent two full days making work and sharing skills, starting with a painting day directed by Marie, whose artistic practice began in fine art painting and printing when she studied at Central St Martins. Using acrylics, we began working on A1 sheets of lining and hand made paper covering them with washes and making marks using a variety of techniques: sponges, rags, scratching tools, fingers and a range of brushes. Initially, we had our sounds in mind but wanted to have a loose session so did not work directly from any visual prompts or music.
After a frenzied and fun couple of hours we had produced various grounds to print onto or cut up and collage and had also listened to some of our respective sounds to create some interesting collections of marks. I absolutely loved the process and was surprised to find I had a painter inside me! It was a really loose and experimental way to work, quite the opposite to my normal approach, which offered some interesting and unexpected results.
On day two we headed to the Print Clan studio to prepare our artwork for some textile printing. This is where I took the lead by helping Marie to digitise her artwork in Illustrator ready for printing onto tracing paper and exposing a screen. We each picked two areas of interest from our output on the previous day and photographed them, before using the image trace function to vectorise them in Illustrator. It sounds quick but when you're not used to the process it can be quite time consuming!
Once we had our artwork printed onto tracing paper we exposed a screen each in the exposure unit and were ready to get going. We selected some upcycled fabric from the stash at the studio, pinned sections to the large print table and set to work with screen printing some samples. It was fun to mix up colours and experiment with over-printing. We also used some metallic colours which gave some interesting results.
I eventually let loose on a larger piece of fabric, choosing four colours and over printing both of my pieces of artwork randomly. As you can see here, the most interesting parts are where different inks are overlapping. In addition Marie also worked into one of her prints with posca acrylic paint pens, building in another layer to her work.
For me the days spent with Marie were living proof that collaboration is key within artistic practice. Not only did we both learn new skills and about each other's quite different working practices, we identified new ways of working which we can embed into our own practices going forward which will enable us to develop professionally. I'm excited to maintain momentum and keep up the painting and I know Marie has plans to get screen printing now that she is back home in North Uist. What a fantastic experience!