I will admit that I felt confused and overwhelmed by both the simplicity and versatility of the stencil monoprint. It seems the more that the technical process was verbally explained, the more baffled I became! What was meant by the positive and negative spaces and images? How did I ‘ghost’ an image? How did I physically block off or use wipe back methods to add layers and complexity to my prints. I just couldn’t visualise this process.
In the end I decided to simply throw myself into the inspiration I felt about the ‘place’ I had chosen. I am rarely lost for inspiration, it was just the technique I was confused about. So I gained a sense of calm and reassurance as I leant into the themes I wanted to explore and ‘just did,’ without thinking too much. The process of the process has an unfurling excitement and calm to it.
The place that I want to explore and depict is Afghanistan. Afghanistan the place, the experience, the memory, the historic, the commemorated, and the viewpoints of the many. The mountains were a symbol for this. When I was there, I fell in love with the beautiful mountains of Tarin Kowt. Each evening I’d watch the mountains as the sun descended and the most incredible starry night came up for a show. They were majestic in changing colour, ancient. What had they seen? They seemed to know everything.
I was inspired by three artists who have focused on mountains in their work. Firstly, I love Annika Romeyn’s prints. Last August I saw her Endurance exhibition at Megalo in Canberra and her studio at M16 in Canberra also. I always felt I wanted to something that depicted those textured majestic mountains in print.
The depictions of mountain monoprints shown by Belinda Fox in class were also highly inspiring.
Finally, I loved the mountain paintingI Walk Further and Find Youin Brigita La’s current exhibitionOutside Inat 47 Rose St, Fitzroy.
The motif of women in burkas was also important as I developed my imagery. When I saw women in burkas, from a feminist Western military perspective, they were deeply unsettling. The presence of women in burkas indicated that the Taliban still had a stronghold in the areas we visited. It angered me that the lives of so many Afghan women were unbearably difficult. They were so vulnerable in a myriad of ways. Later, when my husband died after his Afghanistan deployment with the Army, I felt solidarity with those Afghan women - in their stoic suffering, in the way they still found a way forward through war, injustice, poverty. Their numbers represented a sisterhood. In line with that, the motif of the abstracted and simplified Australian War Memorial is somewhat self-explanatory.
Here are some of my furling ideas from my notebook.