John McGowan - Printmaker

Original Prints from an Original Printmaker

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    David’s Chapel, Screen-print, Edition of 10, Paper H 84cms x W 58cms, Image: H 54cms x W 45.5cms

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  • Stacks Image 371

    Primitive Methodist Chapel, Screen-print, Edition of 10, 2004, Paper H 70cms x W 56cms, Image: H 53.5cms x W 54cms

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    Northborough Prospect, Screen-print, Edition of 20, 2012, Paper H 35.5cms x W 92.5cms, Image: H 30cms x W 86cms

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    St. Andrew’s Church, Screen-print, Edition of 20, 2013, Paper H 38cms x W 46cms, Image: H 32cms x W 40cms

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    Northboro Cowshed, Screen-print, Edition of 20, Paper H 20 x W 15.5cms, Image H15.5 x W11.5cms

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Northborough prints


Northborough is a small village seven miles north of the city of Peterborough, in the East of England. It contains Northborough Manor House which is a fortified manor house, built by Roger de Norburgh in the early fourteenth century, and the parish church of St Andrew, where relatives of poet John Clare are buried. It also has a fine non-conformist chapel, now a private residence and the old Victorian school, which has also been converted into a house.

Living in a village with such wonderful buildings has been an inspiration and a regular source of subject matter. I like to use my camera to record buildings of interest. In my village I can always go out on another day or another month and store up images for later use.

David’s Chapel


David’s Chapel was made as an exemplar; to help students, embarking on their first screen print, understand how pattern and texture can create tonal variation just using one colour. The fragmentation of the image derives from an initial photo-joiner. These are made from a series of photographic prints that are placed next to each other, to create a larger image. Each section has a different perspective (the technique was developed by David Hockney).

Screen-print in 1 colour on speckled cartridge
Dimensions: Paper H 62cms x W 51cms, Image: H 54cms x 46cms Limited Edition of 7

Primitive Methodist Chapel, Northborough

The PMC is based on the same image as David’s Chapel but here the corners of the cruciate form are completed with an ‘abstract-expressionist’ splatter and extended sky. The black becomes a transparent grey that blends in with the restricted palette of ochre, brick red and blue. The print is a series of experiments with the then new Lascaux tusches, which are the media that I use on transparent plastic to create images to print. The subject matter is important as it links into my continued reference to John Piper’s work.

Screen-print in 4 colours on Fabriano Tiepolo mould-made paper
Dimensions: Paper H 70cms x W 56cms, Image: H 54cms x 45.5cms Limited Edition of 10

Northboro’ Prospect

In earlier prints I had used subject matter from Oundle and the road to Downham Market. I realized, on reflection, that the buildings in my own village were well worth studying. The resultant print places the best of Northborough’s buildings in an imagined frieze-like sequence through an initial photographic collage that has been interpreted with a variety of graphic media, including transfer printing. John Piper is quoted in a number of ways, both in imagery, composition, text and technique.

Screen-print in 6 colours on Fabriano Tiepolo mould-made paper
Dimensions: Paper H 35cms x W 92.5cms, Image: H 30cms x 86cms Limited Edition of 20


St. Andrew’s Church, Northborough

St. Andrew’s is an enlarged version of the church from the above print. It was made specifically to raise monies for the Church’s restoration fund and half the edition has been sold for that purpose. The bigger image gave space for further experimentation with graphite powder to create a fluid sky.

Screen-print in 6 colours on Fabriano Tiepolo mould-made paper
Dimensions: Paper H 38cms x W 46cms, Image: H 31.5cms x 40cms Limited Edition of 20

Northborough Cowshed


Whilst my work was on display at the John Clare Cottage in 2014/15 I deliberated on making a print with John Clare connections. I live opposite the other John Clare Cottage in Northborough and mused on what he might have seen on his local walks. The old cowshed, in a local field, is on a Parish map dated 1800, so would have been there when Clare was resident in Northborough. In use until the 1960s as a cowshed, it is now the home of an old piece of farm equipment. A wall collapsed after I started work on this. I hope it survives the winter! Wooden posts, corrugated iron and a rusty old gatepost surround the entrance to the shallow barn.

The print is another investigation into the monochrome potential of screen-printing, which started with “Lavoria”. As Pat Gilmour writes in her introduction to the Tate catalogue on the Kelpra exhibition, “There is no tradition of monochrome printing in screen-printing”. So, I’m trying to invent one! The previous project, “Lavoria’, used tone separation to achieve tonal gradation. In this print I’m working closer to a ‘wood-engraving ‘ style, whereby the same tone is split into smaller/larger particles to achieve tonality. Whether it was due to technical incompetence or not, the hand-made drawing on acetate was too “rich” to expose on the light-box and translate all the detail to the screen. I resorted to using the scanner to capture all the detail in one exposure.

Screen-print in 1 colour on Fabriano Artistico mould-made paper
Dimensions: Paper 20 x 15.5 cms, Image 15.5 x 11.5 cms
Limited Edition of 20.


John McGowan
December 2015

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