‘Good Things to Engross, Near Banbury Cross’ – Public Artwork [2018]

For part of my Foundation Degree, I have been working on a project about Banbury. On our visit to the Banbury Museum, the thing that struck me most was the changes to buildings and industries within the town. I took inspiration from Banbury’s rich history of woodcut chapbooks in choosing the style for my designs. I wanted to celebrate Banbury’s rich heritage by combining the old with the new, so I selected some of Banbury’s iconic buildings, blending current images with archive images to create a linocut that tells the building’s story.

 

A blend of a current and old photograph of one of the buildings I liked.

Initially I created a square mile of Banbury to work with. It was at this point where I realised my square covered pretty much all of Banbury and was therefore slightly useless! I searched image archives and Facebook groups (there are a couple of awesome ones for the town which are full of enthusiastic people.) and picked a handful of buildings that I thought were recognisable and also that I liked aesthetically. I found old photos of them (and in the case of St Mary’s an etching of the original church) and blended them together in photoshop. 

The blended image transferred to Lino and carved out.

I printed these out and used them as the basis for drawings of the buildings, which were then transferred to lino and carved. In total it took about 16 hours to carve all 6 blocks. They’re not especially large blocks either, roughly a5 but there were some fiddly bits! 

 

Another building inked up and ready to print.

With deadlines creeping up, I made the decision to use waterbased ink to print the first prints from these plates. Ordinarily I don’t like the waterbased ink I have, I prefer the sheen and slower drying time of the oil-based Caligo range, but I needed this set of prints to dry quickly so I could scan them. It worked out well, I ended up with several prints of each that I am happy with. 

The finished prints, scanned in and tidied up a little bit. 

From the offset, I thought having them displayed on the floor of the shop window would be more interesting and unusual. For stability I wanted a concertina shape, and for them to be larger than the lino plates (and time limits) allowed for. I printed them onto A3 cartridge paper, which was then mounted onto card. What I like best about this design is that from one angle you have one ‘street’ view and from the other a completely different one! Hopefully this will cause people to linger and savour the details of my work. 

A partial view of the final piece.

I drew a lot of my inspiration from Banbury’s rich publishing history of chapbooks (cheaply printed books, aimed at children, usually on sugar paper). Consequently, I will be making a small chapbook with these images, which I will have for sale in Church Lane Gallery, hopefully by the end of the week! They will be screenprinted onto paper and folded. I will also be doing a run of all 6 prints using my trusty Caligo oil based inks. Once dry, you’ll be able to find them on the browser bar of my work in CLG, and at events I am at throughout the summer. 

The concertina piece can be found in the right hand window of the former Moss Bros shop in Banbury until the end of March. 

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