Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Black Diamonds and Blue Scars

It is the end of my Masters course and my exhibition is on until the 22nd of July. I came to this course with a clear creative and personal objective for my project; to produce a graphic novel about my childhood, growing up in a mining community, a social documentary using memory to convey a political message.

I incorporated sequential art as a basis to form a narrative within my work dealing with memory and history. I have used a combination of social history and personal experience with the aim to connect with a wider audience through art. I had hoped to complete the whole book but after early tutorials I was persuaded to focus on one chapter and to produce it to a high quality. 

Here is my exhibition at Camberwell, the main part of my work is the book I produced (on the table), and the images of the wall contain some pages from the book blown up in scale. 

The book is the memoir of a mining family from the Midlands who are plunged into a grimy underworld set within the industrial conflicts of the 1980s miners' strikes. It focusses on relationships between squabbling siblings within the household whilst the threat of pit closure under Thatcher's reign looms eerily.

The most prominent creative issue I have is that I often employ different visual styles. This is further reflected in the fact that my work often is of a political theme and is construed as having a serious side whilst often, I aim to capture the energy of life and humour in everyday situations to capture what it is to be human. Within my project I have used these two distinct differing of visuals to create a division between the world in which we inhabit and a second world which resides underground that the miners are found in. 

Here is a close up of a work in progress. This piece was made using scraperboards, it is a fine layer of clay covered in ink, using a tool you scrape away at the ink and create a reverse drawing.

I also experimented with lino printing and etching, I felt that these techniques held a physical connection with coal mining, chipping away at the surface of lino was akin to removing coal. In a subsequent interview with my retired coal miner father he told me about a time during the strikes the 'ladies from Greenham Common' came to join the pickets and would call Thatcher 'lower than lino' because in their eyes you couldn't get lower than lino. 

The underground world is a darker harsher environment which creates tension in the reader and is often dangerous. In contrast the over ground habitat is seen as more happy go lucky with a strong link to humour found in family situations.

Above are more examples of the scraperboards, after cutting the boards I would arrange and resize them in photoshop. Below is one of several etchings produced to support the book.

Above is an example of how the boards were arranged with dialogue in photoshop. 

This book is the first chapter of four, the whole piece has been written and storyboarded during my Masters and I will continue to finish it now that my course has ended. If you interested in owning the first chapter, it is available to buy here from my online shop.