I find it hard to believe that I started this collagraph plate almost three years ago, before we’d even started thinking about moving over to Australia. The inspiration came from the verdigris runnelled surface of the horses of St Mark’s Square in Venice. We’d taken my father over there for a short break in February 2006 and it was cold, sometimes wet and absolutely magical. When we returned to Bristol I dug out a large sheet of really thick card that had, I think, been used as backing for a pack of etching paper and I started drawing on it. By the time we emigrated, some eight months later, all I’d achieved apart from the drawing was the outline of the horse’s collar and a small amount of texture from crumpled tissue paper saturated in PVA glue… I’ve carried the damned thing around with me every since vowing that soon I’d get on with finishing the plate.
Nothing has happened until today, and from somewhere came the enthusiasm to pick it up again. I’ve always liked the drawing but I think that as usual I’ve been afraid of failing with it, ruining it, or just not managing to make it properly. I managed to get over myself a bit today and have been cooking on gas: felt made for three flower garlands, washed, spun and hung out ready to dry plus the Codex 6 books are now complete and I’ve added surface and texture to the horse collagraph plate and I’ve started applying carborundum dust around the outside of the asymmetric image. In truth I won’t know if I want that velvety darkness around the horse until I start proofing the print – I may end up cutting the whole thing out and using it as an element in the print. We’ll see. Between now and then I think I’ve got a long way to go, not least in terms of figuring out HOW I’m going to print it as it is far too big for my press. I think I’m going to have to hand-print it.
Detail of the eye. I’ve tried to build up the surface so that when it prints in negative there is an indentation in the relevant places on the image. You can see where I’ve heaped up the carborundum powder over the wood-glue around the ear and mane!