To mark the 5th anniversary of the opening of the North House Gallery we are holding the first major retrospective of prints by Barbara Rae, the hugely respected Royal Academician.
Barbara Rae’s printmaking has been integral to her artistic activity since her student days. The way she conceives and works on her monoprints, screenprints and etchings complements and informs her approach to painting. The discipline imposed by these media and the unique opportunities offered by them create a set of possibilities which stimulate her vision of the world, whether she is drawing, painting, making prints, or simply observing.
She makes prints in a number of different studios, responding to the ambience of each environment and the interaction with colleagues involved on particular projects. She has made collagraphs at Graphic Studio in Dublin, etchings at Glasgow Print Studio, and screenprints with Graal Press near Edinburgh. At present Barbara Rae prints most of her monotypes at her studio in Los Angeles from drawings and paintings made during extended visits to Ireland, France, Italy, the desert regions of North America, and within her native Scotland.
Barbara Rae’s complete engagement in the printmaking process can be illustrated by describing the genesis of two of her recent screenprints.
Mayo and Dhún Pádraig are original hand-printed screenprints in which the artist explores the special marks, washes and layering effects which can be achieved with this medium. Mayo’s lively translucent washes interact with each other and Dhún Pádraig’s surface qualities range from glossy marks to dense powdery colours.
During the first stage of making her screenprints Barbara Rae draws and paints on clear substrates with artist’s materials and a selection of specially designed tusches: these paintings are referred to as autographic positives. Each tusche has its own characteristics and is used to create particular types of mark, perhaps grainy reticulated washes or a dry brush stroke. Sometimes the tusches are diluted or mixed together to create further effects. Working with these dark coloured tusches, Barbara Rae has to imagine how these marks will eventually interact as printed layers of colour. She may paint and draw as many as sixty positives in order to build up the complex interweaving elements of her images.
Once the positives are dry they are transferred to screen meshes to form an accurate stencil. All the painted marks become open areas of mesh through which the selected colour can be printed onto paper. The screen holding the marks is then fitted to the press and the image is squeegeed through the mesh onto the paper below. The printed paper is placed on a rack to dry, the mesh is refilled with colour and the next sheet of paper is positioned under the mesh ready for printing. In this way the image from each painted positive is printed sequentially on each sheet of paper in the edition.
Dhún Pádraig took over a month to edition and was screenprinted at Graal Press by Carol Robertson using the same type of artist’s paints that Barbara Rae works with. Mayo was printed using screenprinting inks in the printmaking department of the Royal College of Art in London. Both images are printed on acid-free mould-made paper.
- Open on Saturdays, 10 am - 5 pm or by appointment.
These images are a selection of the works available at the Gallery Please contact the gallery for further information