Cameron Morgan - Arthouse residency Week 1

Cameron Morgan is now starting his second week in residence at the Arthouse. Technician Jim Ewen spent the first week with him, and brought back many photos and many stories. 

Tuesday 20th June: we started the day meeting Richard Marsden -the screen printer- who would be working with us exploring the process. We jumped straight in, turning Cameron’s picture of the combine harvester into a 4 colour print. This involved quite a lot of preparation of scanning editing and colour separation on the computer. Printing the images onto acetate. Coating the silkscreens, then exposing them, and finally, washing and drying the screens. Next, Cameron mixed some ink and taped up the excess areas of the screen. Now we were ready to print and 10 sheets later we were done. The first colour of the combine was done.

We stopped for lunch and in the time we had left we made some experiments using tape. Set a shape with tape on the back of the screen and then use ink to make some interesting colour prints. We learned how the ink mixes on the screen and how to mask off areas like a stencil.

Wash up time and that was our first day with Richard. We had a break and then came back for the rest of the afternoon. Cameron worked on a new drawing of an agricultural windmill or water pump as they were used, and I made some experiments with paper stencils. We decided to make Cameron’s drawing into a stencil and started cutting it up. It felt good to be thinking up ideas and just doing it. Just a few hours ago we didn’t have the confidence to do that. Now it felt natural, like we knew what we were doing. And it worked, we got a good print from the paper stencil.

Wednesday started with the aim to complete the combine harvester. Another 3 colours to print. Because the ink was water based and because of the weather, the ink dried quickly so we could over print after about 40 min. The finished edition of 10 prints were just stunning. A major achievement in so little time.

In-between the colour printing, when Richard washed the screens or prepared the next one, Cameron got on with developing the windmill print. He traced on top of the print where highlights should go and then made another paper stencil. This time with a grey ink. It was coming on really well. We removed the stencil for the final print just to see what would happen- a ghostly image of the windmill appeared. Later on Cameron would draw on top of this print to create a fantastic finished piece.

After a very busy day, it was time for dinner. We tried the Thai Street Food Wakefield and it became our favourite restaurant.

On Thursday the plan was to do another of Cameron’s drawings. This time of a tractor ploughing a field. We were going to do 3 colours in just a few hours. With screen printing there are always test prints before the good paper goes in. we had built up many such prints and they were overprinted with each new colour. The result was a stack of chaotic and beautiful prints which could easily go into the coming exhibition.

The final edition of the tractor was finished just as the photographer arrived so Richard decided to make another colour experiment print. Making a shape with tape on the screen Cameron then literally threw ink at the screen. Almost got the photographer too! He made some great prints with bright, bright colours.

Again in-between printing the tractor we worked on the windmill print. Cameron made a third stencil for which we printed in pink. He also over drew another of the ghost prints. They turned out great, and with that Thursday was done.

Friday started early. It was my last full day with Cameron. I would be going home on Saturday and Jason Davis would be coming down to take over my duties. Richard wasn’t working with us today so we had to carry on experimenting on our own. Through the week I had been making experiment prints with paper stencils and then overprinting with an exposed screen with a drawing on it. My drawings and paintings are all based on an imaginary place called Zillerholm. It allows me to mash out lots of different places and cultures in one place. The prints I made tied into this as well. I was really pleased with them but I didn’t need to do anymore of them. So today, Cameron and I worked together, using everything we had learned, to make hybrid drawings and prints.

We started with some quality paper, Fabriano Rosapina, and using watercolour, graphite and ink, made some paintings which were all about mark making and colour. Then we tore them up. We prepared the screen with a landscape format and attached strips of tape. Cameron mixed some bright colours and then we started printing. At first on fresh paper and later on the torn up paintings.

We over printed some twice, and on some prints used Cameron’s tractor plough image as well. It was a really fun day and we got what we wanted -the happy accident. It turned up everywhere. The paintings we torn up were printed really randomly, however when we fitted them back together in 2s and 3s it worked so well. They were meant to go back together. We were really pleased, the creative gods were blessing us today.

We cleaned up the studio and as I sorted out all the prints we had done over the 4 days, Cameron started over drawing 2 of the prints. He created a couple of gems. And with that we were done. A nine hour day. My legs were aching. I needed a sit down and a cold beer. I got both. It was a real pleasure working with Cameron and I really enjoyed our chats in the evenings over food and beer. I’ll miss Wakefield as well, the Arthouse staff and the sun. Time to go home.

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