Sunday, 9 June 2013

Dungeness / Solar Plate (final workshop)

Dungeness;boat, hut & nuclear power station

Our last workshop from this project was set at Dungeness on the Kent Coast, some 70 miles from the chaos of the Elephant & Castle. A remote and exposed location where sea, fishing shacks, wooden chalet style homes and the nuclear power station all meet. A perfect setting for the solar plate session, where we could be truly exposed to the elements and with little resources apart from the materials we brought and natures materials, littered around.

Briefing session on the beach

A grey and very overcast day, one similar to all the other 2 days of the project. The end of May should have brought warmer temperatures and clearer skies (after a short review we noted that January, March & May temperatures were all similar). After a 2 hour coach journey we explored Derek Jarman's prospect Cottage and examined some of his reclaimed sculptures within the wild garden, to give the group context to the place. During this short stop we discovered the bus driver had sunk the coach wheels into the verge! A marsh land and shingle episode. We piled up our materials and headed to the beach unfortunately leaving him to scratch his head and call a tow truck.

We camped next to a small fishing boat, where 'the old sea dog' went about maintaining his boat while we soaked up the place and were briefed. A more patient and experimental print process was to proceed. We built a mini darkroom (for coating the plates), more reminiscent of a coffin, where we had to half crawl into and coat the plates. Beach combing for objects and then mark making with found tools enabled the maker to connect more closely with the location and create abstract marks and impressions. Using sea water for plate cleaning allowed us to be mindful of the resources we could use. Some of the external factors are uncontrollable, as the UV/sunlight are difficult to calculate. The exposure time and printing stages are also not for a maker who wishes to control every detail and print instantly. This process is akin to the place and requires you to sit back and soak in the process and place together.

Plate preparation
The group also took advantage of the inspiring place but walking, photographing as we waited for plates to dry being mesmerised by the spirit and atmosphere of Dungeness.

We concluded the session by printing some great plates (who that were dry) and experimenting with registering, layering and colour combinations. As the sun finally came out, low tide revealing the mud bank and then came the sand fishermen.

The coach was finally towed out and we returned to London, within minutes the coach fell quiet as the group all fell asleep!

Here are a selection of the plates produced on the day:

A step by step guide on solar plate from artouride (who we provide green printmaking workshops for).

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