I’ve almost completed a series of monoprints about visiting the past, focusing on two ‘Venus’ figures that were made around 30,000 years ago. In May I visited the Dordogne and spent a lot of time in the painted and carved caves, the ancient shelters, the archeological sites and the museums, immersed in our pre-historic art. I made drawings (many in the dark in the caves) and on returning home I had no time to work with them because I had booked to go on a workshop with the American printmaker Ron Pokrasso. It was during the workshop that I discovered a way of working with these ideas, using monoprint and some wonderfully rich American inks, Akua Intaglio (check Ron’s website http://ronpokrasso.com for a demo of his techniques and info about his inspirational workshops).
I had an Open Studios show through most of the rest of June, so had to progress fairly slowly, but I’ve been immersed in printmaking through July and now have about 40 prints using these ideas. The first group use the Venus of Sireuil, thinking about my encounter with her, her time underground while we and our predecessors walked above, her emerging into our world and bringing evidence of a past in which she was conceived, shaped, carried around and cared for. The second Venus I introduced later into the series was the Venus of Willendorf, from about 32,000BC and found in Austria – I used her because she is the most familiar image and much easier to recognise as a figure from pre-history than the Venus of Sireuil.
Here are some of the earlier prints, where I have linked the very dominant menhirs, standing stones that have a strong masculine character, with the Venus figure, changing sizes, strength and focus:
I made two prints with a message on them (that I’d seen in a Cornish museum some time ago and liked), ‘Don’t change the stones, let the stones change you’ – here is one:
Some of the prints were explicitly about the Venus being buried and found through archaological digs, exposed in the layers of time: