Exhibition at Tateliverpool, 28 February – 11 May 2014

opulence           static          culture

             mulch           slavery             myth

These were some of the words we were asked to think of; words, which sprang up for us after looking at one of the sculptures in the exhibition. We were attending a workshop taster at TateLiverpool to explore the Raymond William’s exhibition, based on his book, Keywords. It was open to all ‘members’ of the WEA community.

I hadn’t anticipated such terrific carrot cake and coffee to perk us up on arrival. A good start! Then, Ed, one of the tutors, opened up the theme of the morning. He asked us to choose one of the sculptures in the exhibition and let the words flow. Pick five of them. And, then, the other tutor, Colette showed us how to make our prints. ‘Take a dab of printer’s ink. Roll it forwards and backwards and from side to side. Keep rolling till you hear it squeak, like a mouse’, she guided us.

On inking your shapes…’Oh, no!’, she cried out, ‘I meant to say ink them on the reverse side.’ We had each drawn a silhouette of one of the sculptures in the exhibition and then used a scalpel to cut out them out, leaving two “plates” – the object cut out and the negative space left over. Not easy using a scalpel – I’d last used one on a cadaverous, dead body of a team mate (but that was such a long time ago and a different story) – and the cutting out started to go well, once Colette pointed out I was holding the scalpel the wrong way up. ‘It will cut much better using the blade.’ And it did!

Copy your word onto a piece of fun foam in a lovely, cursive script. ‘mulch’  I wrote. Lovely. Surround it with a border and don’t forget about your negative space. Apply the ink by roller on the reverse side and set it up on the printer. Turn the handle to make your work of art. And so we did and they were. Several delighted, smiling faces showed as much. Saad commented how peaceful the place was. We were working quietly, listening to classical piano music, looking out the wide windows over the river Mersey.

If we’d had more time, we were told, we could have gone on to practise ‘etching’, using a scratching on plastic method. One for another day, I hope.

Before we parted, I discussed the possibility of running an ‘Introduction to Printmaking’ course, its theory and history as well as practical, in the autumn. Any takers out there? Anyone at all…now that we’ve wetted your appetite? Get in touch.


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