Marine Machine

My recent etchings and mezzotints are inspired by the studies of microscopic marine animals drawn by the biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919) for his book Kuntstformen der Nature (1904). I had been working with botanical forms in different media for twenty years creating what I call icons. Prior to that my subject matter was the human form which I used in my book cover illustrations for Virago and water colour paintings, often working from classical themes. As a student I based my final degree work on 19th Century drawings of insects and crustaceans. The artists who especially inspired me then were Hieronymus Bosch and Max Ernst.

In these works I have selected images for their intricacy and idiosyncratic qualities. Some compositions are deliberately metamorphosed into anthropomorphic ideas e.g. Warriors, some are suggestions.

I started exploring etching three years ago, first with Ana Villen in Granada then at Morley College, London under Dorothea Wight and her husband Marc Balakjian. They are master print makers (editioning Lucien Freud, Auerbach and others). They happen by good chance to specials also in mezzotint.

I found this medium to be particularly what I was looking for as it gives a profound darkness from which images can mysteriously emerge. I have also experimented with the method of cut out dry points on discarded lithographic plates. Photographic etching has allowed me to work with collage echoing my interest in Max Ernst.

At the heart of my work lies the human element.