Elaine d'Esterre

Feminist Visual Artist – Paintings, Mixed Media and Etchings


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Drought Imagery on my Homepage

I completed these eight etching collages last year when I sensed that atmospheric conditions could herald another drought, hopefully without the severity of the last unforgettable one.

The mind/scape iconography of floating heads and ears especially are meant to indicate the way in which some sounds set off an unexpected stream of images – an underworld where fears and insecurities reside.

The existence of the images was almost like an omen, as I took them from my plan draws after a year, that jolted me now that an El Nino weather event is now controlling our weather system in 2015. And as I re-photographed them on my verandah, large spots of rain spattered them but very, very briefly, as true to form, the rain fall abruptly ceased.

Hardly projecting a sense of joy, they resemble a drought ravaged landscape – a bit withered and colourless.

Sounds of Drought 3, 2014, etching collage

Sounds of Drought 3, 2014, intaglio, drypoint, chine-colle and collage  


Silver Leaf and Intaglio Experiment

Background

The etchings in the slide show are earlier experimental versions using metal leaf with black etching ink with varying degrees of success.

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In my most recent attempts, this time with silver leaf I also added a red ground because I felt that the silver may be too cool.


Etchings Works in Progress

IMG_2659Layers
The first layer was a washy pink over which I printed red, black or grey and also a rolled grey area in 2 versions of the image. While I have not altered the original image etched on to the plate I have altered the colour placement by way of masking and roll up. I enjoy making different versions of the one image which results in a variable edition.


Copperplate etching, first stage

Copperplate is quite a hard surface in comparison to zinc or aluminium. I haven’t etched on copper for a while. This was an old plate with an aquatint that provided me with a dark area from which I began the composition. The composition is based on an earlier work titled Maria found the “golden spike”, an oil on gessoed paper.

Titled Maria Located the Golden Spike, 2013, 54x72 cm, oil on gessoed paper

Maria Located the Golden Spike, 2013

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The term “golden spike” refers to a part of the early boundary within the Flinders Ranges where 635-542 million  year old fossils were found. The significance of the find led the world science community to recognise a new geological period termed the Ediacaran period. The three printed images are firstly with red ink and then I tried a black area on top of the red. In the third image I printed red over dark grey in the background making it a little too dark. I needed to have a lighter grey under the red as a base. I then masked out the areas left as white.

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Several attempts at a suitable base layer with trial and error.

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More modification with the red layer.

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The red could be made lighter by a further lightening of the grey base layer. At this stage I’m half way through the process.


A Patricia Sykes Poem “On your suicide coast”, 2013 : Allegory and Art

On my Home Page I have removed the previous images ( etchings; intaglio, chine-colle and collage) about the forces of nature from the series titled:

Return to Sand and Water

and added more images from that series which are about the artist and a process of insight. The artist like a diver plunges into the ocean of the mind and brings up ‘pieces of insight’ not the spark of an idea but the process of creativity that brings that idea to fruition. Also included is a poem titled On your suicide coast, by Patricia Sykes, 2013

Behind the process of insight theme depicted in these etchings was a tragic story.

Usually at Point Roadknight my impetus derives from the forces of nature or the sheer beauty of sunrise and back-lit cloud formations however this time was different. It was an unexpected tragic situation that I thought I’d forgotten about but which just popped up unexpectedly. On the ocean side of Point Roadknight rocky ledges reach like outstretched hands into the ocean and it was at this location that a friend called me on her mobile to hurry and meet her. What started as an early morning walk for her ended in both of us identifying a washed up body lying face down on the sand.

The very sad thing for me was that he could not be stopped from this ‘final dive’ by the beauty of this place.

We both  found an outlet in poetry and art for the topic of suicide but not as a collaboration. I had not set out to do a series of etchings informed by the poem.

Earlier I had some old prints that I tore up and collaged into new compositions. The torn image was one of the Hanged Man and was about an art student’s Performance as this persona; painted in white chalk, hanging from rafters with musician also performing on the side of the hanging figure. I turned the image around so that it could be read as a diving figure, omitted the musicians and integrated the male figure into the land/seascape and then it unexpectedly reminded me of the suicide.

The figure reaching into the watery underworld has been used in art and literature frequently as an allegory about art and poetry for example the image of Narcissus by Caravaggio, 1600 becomes an allegory of painting.

NARCIS

We had been working separately at different times with this material and I had put mine away for several years until recently when I noticed that they seemed in sympathy with each other – simpatico.

This poem by Patricia Sykes is titled:

On your suicide coast

a holiday of bodies in languid sprawl

as if death is never a stalker

a strange aliveness

       their lassitude

      disturbed by no breath of yours

       though they loll among the gone of it

some scan the horizon, the sky,

less from anxiety than the habit

of eyes as wings, the shadows

      fleeting their faces are mostly sea birds

      a streak of sooty crests

      through bright indifferent sunlight

did you admire the tenacity of terns,

how they hug the shore like guards?

my eyes your surrogates fly

      to 96° west, the SOS marker

      that hovered above your suicide like a metal angel

      it hovers still, its yellow vigilance

defies rust, its loyalty to the drowned

and the bereft told in griefs of flowers

though you were a stranger here

      though the last spume to touch you

      slid off the marker’s face

      like incidental sea spray

the wheeling terns are not crying

an absolute goodbye

death is constant burial

      I give you back to water

      the way a parent trusts an infant to a cradle

      this time the surge and thrash

is gentler; strange fish nibble my fingers,

as if you left a hunger here, the ocean

though speaks of nothing but cold

 

Patricia Sykes, 2013

 

Poetics in Imagery

One way I depict the content of a story in my imagery is through a time honoured method that can be termed poetics, metaphor or allegory; that is using one story to tell another in the case of allegory.

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