top of page

Local

Local

A series of prints made since 2012 reflecting my interest in local architecture and inspired by the work of john Piper

 

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.

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

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.

There are 3 versions of the Chapel: the first, in black and white, was an exemplar based on a photographic joiner collage, used to demonstrate tone and textural variations in monochrome. The second version includes a strong green field filling the spaces around the cruciform image. The third iteration is the one described above
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
 

Northborough Cowshed

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

 

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.

There is a second version of the same image but this one is drypoint print with carborundum powder added in the darker tones.

Balcony House (2014)


Screen-print in 11 colours on Fabriano Tiepolo mould-made paper
Dimensions: Paper H 76cms x W 45cms, Image: H 60cms x 39cms Limited Edition of 25

Balcony House, Glinton, was going to be part of a new ‘Prospect’ but the sight of the wonderful parterre garden changed my mind. and turned it into a stand-alone image. Photographs of the garden were taken from the balcony and blended together, then reversed to give a bird’s-eye view. The description is not literal; some of the foreground has been edited to give greater emphasis to the design of the low box hedging. The print has 11 colours, nearly twice as many as recent prints. The reason for the increase was the need to create contrasting splatter textures on the many areas of bush and hedge.

St. Benedicts, Glinton (2018)

Screen-print in 6 colours on Fabriano Tiepolo

Dimensions: Paper H 76cms x W 45cms, Image: H 60cms x 39cms

Limited Edition of 25

St. Benedicts Glinton’ was commissioned by ‘The Bluebell’, which sits across the green from this fine Church. Having taken school pupils to draw and paint here for 15 years this is the first time I have made an image of the church myself. It was suggested that the sky was imported from sunnier climes – it wasn’t – the October sky was a pure azure blue.

Oundle

My prints about Oundle have been made over a 15 year period. For seven years I was the printmaking specialist at Oundle School Art Department and chose, during that time, to make wide-ranging experiments in print techniques. However, the experimental processes often led to stand alone prints which are featured in this section, the locations vary widely.

West Street 2003


Screen-print in 4 colours on Fabriano Tiepolo Limited Edition of 10
Dimensions: Paper H 58cms x W 76cms, Image: H 48cms x 54cms Limited Edition of 10

West Street (Oundle) takes three buildings built for religious purposes and an elegant Georgian town house which are, in reality, spaced along the length of the eponymous street. They are brought together to create a print in which the formal qualities of the different architectural styles are set against a series of textural improvisations. Early John Piper lithographs inspired the subject matter and style. Initial proofs were made at Graal Press, Roslin, under the guidance of Carol Robertson.

West Street 2 (2013)


Screen-print in 4 colours on Fabriano Tiepolo Limited Edition of 10
Dimensions: Paper H 58cms x W 76cms, Image: H 48cms x 54cms

West Street 2 is a considered revision of the same imagery. In this version the darkest tone – off black – carries a much greater weight in the design. It changes the mood of the print from ‘Sunny June’ to ‘Wet Wednesday’. The revision came about from looking in greater depth at the ways in which John Piper uses his ‘key line’ to create textures as well as outline.
 

Oundle Perpendicular


Screenprint in six colours on Arches 88 paper, 300gsm
Edition of 15 with sundry progress proofs, BAT and 4 colour variants
Paper Size: 56 x 76cms, Image Size 48 x 54cms

Oundle Perpendicular is based on two ideas borrowed from other artists's works: William Marlow's Capriccio St Paul's (?c 1795), and John Piper's St. Matthais (1964), Stoke Newington. From the former I have taken the idea of making a new scene from different architectural elements and from the latter, colour choices and autographic handling of texture. The Oundle architecture is by John Sebastian Gwilt and Arthur Blomfield. The print was made expressly to mark the staging of my 2017 Retrospective exhibition at the Yarrow Gallery, which is on the left hand side of the tower. The Yarrow is also where I first had an opportunity to study Piper's prints.
 

West Street /Windows and Doors 2013


Screen-print in 3 colours on Arches 88 paper, 300gsm, Limited Edition of 10
Paper 38 x 49 cms, Image 25.5 x 35.5 cms

West Street/Windows and Doors takes three buildings The Stahl doorway, Georgian town house windows and the front door of Cobthorne, which are, in life, are spaced along the length of the eponymous street. The print brings them together in a style in which the formal qualities of the different architectural styles are set against each other. Early John Piper lithographs inspire the subject matter and style and Edward Bawden's lino-cuts the technique.

Chubb 2003,

Chubb (2003) Image 20 x 28 cms

Solar Plate Etching in one colour Proofs on mould made paper

Oundle Chapel-detail 2003

Oundle Chapel-detail (2003) Image 27 x 19.5 cms

Solar Plate Etching in one colour  Proofs on mould made paper

Chubb is based on a photograph of the padlock that secures the hatch down into the cellar of the Oundle School Chapel and a tone-reversed image of an architectural detail of the Chapel for the other. These two solar plate intaglio prints were produced under the direction of Alfons Bytautas at Edinburgh Printmakers during a short course

 

Tom Tom: The Road to Downham Market (2010)


Screen-print in 5 colours on Fabriano Tiepolo Limited Edition of 6
Dimensions: Paper H 58cms x W 76cms, Image: H 43cms x 56.5cms

Tom Tom started with an unexpected encounter with a series of non-conformist chapels found along the road to Downham Market. The erstwhile visitor was denied access to them in different ways: by conversion, fence and forest. The print was the first in which I explored new ways of making screen prints after retirement from teaching. Instead of a clear plan, with colours carefully mapped out, the final image was arrived at through an exhaustive series of trial proofs. The print is an attempt to balance photographic image with painterly mark making.
 

 

This section under reconstruction.

 

John McGowan
July 2022

bottom of page