Print Curiosities is back! We have expanded our series to include a variety of print and book curiosities from the personal archives across the Printmaking, Book Arts and Letterpress Team. We have asked our technicians to delve into their collections to select, share and write about some of their favourite, special or unusual works of art.
Print Curiosities: No. 2. is selected and written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht.
Having spent nearly a decade editioning prints privately for artists and for Graphic Studio Dublin and Stoney Road Press publications, I have accumulated a good collection of printer’s proofs. Some of these prints are large colour multiple plate prints created by some of Ireland’s top established artists.
Today I have selected to share something a little more subtle and delicate, but equally noteworthy and special.
‘Small Bear’ is one of the most prized etchings in my collection. The print was gifted to me by artist Maev Lenaghan. Maev studied printmaking at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and holds an MFA from Konstfack in Stockholm. She currently lives and works in Sweden.
Maev is interested in narrative and storytelling across Fine Art, Illustration, Literature and Design. Her work explores our relationship and connection to wilderness, working with media such as books, drawing, painting, pastel and printmaking.
Maev is a contributor to I DO ART, an ‘independent dissemination platform for art, with a focus on personal stories and attitudes, visuality and process’.
“My artistic practice springs from ideas that are in essence narrative, that take stock of life in the face of an imperturbable wilderness.”
In 2012, Maev created a series of etchings depicting oral storyteller Clare Murphy in action on Story Night, a regular monthly community storytelling event in Galway, Ireland. These prints were exhibited as part of a solo exhibition titled ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Woods?’.
She describes this show as “a peek at the richness of our interior lives, and then takes a walk to the edge of our society, in search of wilderness. As a species our strength lies in communities, in imagination and communication, and we are reminded of this amidst lively human interaction. We gather together in communities for protection, vulnerable as individuals. Most of us live removed from places where nature is still wild and foreboding. Yet even amongst those of us who have lost sight of our vulnerability beyond the societies of our making, there are yearnings for wilderness, for the great outdoors.”
Most recently Maev exhibited in The Space Gallery in Shanghai, China, with a show titled THIS BRIGHT EARTH. Another recent exhibition ROOTED IN SILENCE at Galleri LOKOMOTIV, Örnsköldsvik in the north of Sweden received an excellent review. The review is written in Swedish, but you can translate it online.
“My latest work encompasses woodblock prints, linocut prints and artist books. These culminated in an exhibition in the north of Sweden which I called ROOTED IN SILENCE. There are two levels to the work: as a balancing of line, colour, emptiness and movement to create energy on the picture plane and to reflect experiences whose very nature are unspoken. Whether recalling the feelings of watching a bonfire burn on the Swedish traditional night of ‘Valborgmässoafton’, visiting the zen rock gardens of Japan or observing the exposed roots of trees; these are memories of being mesmerised by something. These are experiences that quiet the mind and speak to the unconscious and that I believe elicit the emotive response of stillness that you are looking for with the exhibition titled ‘Silence’.”
I met Maev whilst working in Graphic Studio Dublin, one of Ireland’s oldest printmaking co-operatives.
‘Small Bear’ was created for Graphic Studio Dublin’s 50 year Anniversary exhibition titled ‘Gold’. The image is only 10cm x 10cm in size, but by looking at it closely you can see that contains a variety of beautiful line and texture that you can look at for hours. I come to it again and again and it always gives me joy as well as inspiring me to want to make etchings. This deceptively simple image contains three different etching techniques. This really demonstrates the quality and expertise of Maev’s drawing, mark making and printmaking. The etching is made of hard ground and soft ground line as well as sugar lift for a textured wash.
I chose this print not only for its beauty, and accomplished technique, but because it reminds me of the spirit of generosity in the printmaking community as well as the power of patience, subtlety and stillness and the complexity and simplicity of storytelling. You can explore more of Maev’s recent narrative works on her website and instagram.