Whether you’re standing in the HalpernPOP Gallery right now, you’ve clicked a link or stumbled across this exhibition via a search engine:
welcome to mono
23 feb - 8 mar
at the halpern pop, rochester
Hello, I’m Rachel and work out of Studio 7 on the top floor of this beautiful building, where the HalpernPOP Gallery is also located.
I'm currently working on a public art installation for Medway Council called the WELCOME Project, so if I'm not in then I might be out and about collecting memories for that. If I am in then please stop by for a chat and print a postcard on an original 19th Century Nipping Press.
workshops - The best part of my job is running fun, relaxed printmaking workshops. I’ve had the opportunity of working with a real mix of companies from the National Trust to Spotify, I also run workshops from Studio 7 where you and your friends can take over the studio for a chilled afternoon of printing with a glass of Prosecco.
the challenge - Because most of my days are spent organising and running workshops I don’t have much time to develop my own work, so this year I set myself the challenge to do my first (and possibly last!) solo exhibition.
The prints you see are a mix of monotypes and monochrome typography hence the title of the exhibition:
techniques - If you're looking for perfect prints then you've come to the wrong place! I enjoy the imperfections of hand printing and the creative journey that can take you down. I encourage you to really look at each print, examining the layers and the beautiful inaccuracies. I’ve used screen printing techniques, gel / Gelli plates and relief linocuts to create the prints - all of which you can learn how to do at a workshop. If I’m around just ask if you’d like a demonstration.
find out more This is the main exhibition guide where you’ll find an explanation of each print, the story behind it and the print medium used. If you have any questions, would like to find out about workshops and Studio Takeovers or want to purchase an artwork then please get in touch via the contact page.
1 // ONE
Series of four gel prints
Watts Meadow in May // Pink
Watts Meadow in May // Yellow
Watts Meadow in May // Green
Watts Meadow in May // Blue
Framed monotype using a gel plate
£58 per print
Watts Meadow is a peaceful green space that runs between Ethelbert Road (just off Maidstone Road, Rochester) and Priestfields. It’s where I have my allotment and there’s also a 100 year-old tennis court. May is my favourite time of the year, when the paths are flanked with masses of frothy cow parsley and that is the inspiration behind this series of prints. The prints were made using a gel plate. I used a paper stencil to mask and create the base layer and circular sun shape and then a sprig of flowering cow parsley (in February!) for the main image. No two flowers are the same just as no two prints are the same. See how there are broken print lines, dark smudges left on the gel plate from a previous print and, yes, a finger print.
2 // TWO
Don’t Overthink It
I ran a couple of team building workshops at a co-working space in Hackney a few years back. This phrase was plastered over one wall and it’s stuck with me ever since. Whether you’re a perfectionist or not, we all get caught up in insignificant details that stop us from moving forward. Everyone needs one of these reminders fixed firmly and visible in their workspace.
This is a one colour linocut print in neon pink. Here’s a quick explanation about linocut prints.
3 // THREE
Walking the Creek, Faversham II
A memory from the same bleak November walk as PRINT 10 // TEN is the starting point for this print.
It's a monotype on canvas created using a gel / Gelli plate. I reprinted over a light base layer in muddy shades of grey leaving an off-centre area to place the main printed seed head onto. Subtle echoes of nettle stalks and their clusters of seeds, printed in moss-green, fence the print into the frame.
Framed monotype on canvas
4 // FOUR
Apple picking at Brogdale
Technically this isn’t a print. It’s created using a dying process called batik, but it does use wax as a resist, or mask, which is a similar principle behind screen printing. It’s also a one-off (mono) so I’ve allowed it into the exhibition.
Brogdale in Faversham holds the National Fruit Collection (over 4000 varieties of fruit trees) and runs various events every year, one being Heritage Orchard Days which is the inspiration behind this piece. Randomly it’s also one of the few places I’ve flown a kite as an adult and I’ve tried to reflect that sense of motion in the fluid lines.
Batik on cotton fabric
5 // FIVE
High Divers at the Lido
OK, confession time. This one isn’t finished but it’s a great colour and creates balance between the other pieces, so it’s in.
It’s a monotype on canvas, made using a gel / Gelli plate. What you see here are the first few layers giving the piece depth. I’ll add high-dive figures, and re-print over them, sending some into the background and leaving others so they appear in the foreground.
You’ll just have to pop back to see if I get round to finishing it before the exhibition ends!
Here’s how to make your own gel / Gelli plate at home.
Monotype using a gel plate on framed canvas
6 // SIX
The Palm House, Kew
The size and structure of the glass houses at Kew just make me stop; look up and stare. My favourite is the Palm House. Slightly more intimate and absolutely stuffed full of huge (and minute) lush, glistening leaves.
On this particular visit the awesome One Thousand Springs by artist Chiharu Shiota was on display in the Temperate House, and if you click here you’ll see how the two have mingled in my mind. Fun fact; One Thousand Springs was also the inspiration behind the One Hundred Haiku installation we did for MedwayArtBox.
This is a mono screen print onto canvas. It’s made by painting the image directly onto the screen’s mesh. The screen is lowered onto the canvas and then a squeegee is used to ‘pull the print’ which just means sliding the squeegee over the painted image and pushing the paint through the mesh. This is one of those types of printing techniques where you never quite know what you’re going to get.
Mono screen print on canvas
7 // SEVEN
I like my quotes with a bit of a kick!
One-colour framed linocut
8 // EIGHT
This is actually the only print in MONO that I haven’t made in the last 8 weeks. It was my first screen print onto canvas circa 2003. I get asked asked all the time, “is that you?” I can categorically tell you that it is NOT me - I promise I’m not so vain as to put a selfie bang smack in the middle of my solo exhibition! It’s an image based on a 1960s Vogue knitting pattern.
The squeegee wasn’t quite large enough to do the whole print in one go so you can see where I had to go over it a couple of times and the edge of the blade has started to break down the screen, mainly because I used the wrong blocking fluid.
Screen print on canvas
9 // NINE
Framed monotype using a gel plate
10 // TEN
Walking the Creek, Faversham I
It was a bleak mid-November day, the sun was just setting way, way, way behind the colourless clouds and a drizzle was sweeping in across the marshes. However you describe it, it was pretty unpleasant. I stood, hands forced into my pockets, watching the grazing cattle and for a moment stared at the contrast of soft yellow-green grasses and stark sculptural shapes of the cow parsley seeds heads.
This is a monotype on textured canvas created using a gel / Gelli plate. I printed a light base layer then added a paper resist in the shape of the seed heads. Printed over that are shades of grey, green and yellow before adding the detailed seed heads prints. I worked with the texture of the canvas allowing it to dictate the placing of the prints.
Monotype using a gel plate on textured canvas
11 // ELEVEN
Watching the terns on River Thurne
I'll never go back to the Norfolk Broads. You see, the one time I went was so perfect I'd forever be comparing it to that trip. Some things can and should never be recreated.
One of my favourite memories was watching the terns as we sailed up the River Thurne. Their flight is unmistakable. Dashing and darting on their route. Forever adjusting their flight to compensate for what’s ahead but never truly changing course. Each arctic terns weighs just 100g (about the weight of 4 x AA batteries) and have a round trip migration of 22,000 miles a year - imagine the challenges they face on their journey. Determined little things, aren’t they?
This is a monotype on textured canvas created using a gel plate. The background layer starts as aqua-blue tinged with pink and blends through to a grey-blue. The simple shape of the terns is achieved using a paper stencil.
Monotype using a gel / Gelli plate on textured canvas
12 // TWELVE
Framed monotype using a gel plate
13 // THIRTEEN
We're all a bit scared and very few of us really know what we're doing or how we're going to do the things we've said yes to. This is a reminder that however confident the person next to us might look, they're probably winging it too.
A great reminder to wake up to everyday.
A one-colour framed linocut
14 // FOURTEEN
Standing on The Pilgrim’s Way
This is the only print in the exhibition that was created alfresco. It's not something I often do as I always feel really embarrassed if people are around. The sketchy background was printed in the studio using gel / Gelli plates then I took a small screen and squeegee, a selection of paint and brushes and found a quiet spot on the Pilgrim's Way near Common Road, Blue Bell Hill. Nervously I drew the Down's landscape onto the screen and painted it, whilst continually looking over my shoulder. I then set the screen onto the canvas and printed it. Throwing everything into my bag I picked up the screen and canvas and quickly made my way back to the car!
A mono screen print is made by painting the image directly onto the screen’s mesh. The screen is lowered onto the canvas and then a squeegee is used to ‘pull the print’ which just means sliding the squeegee over the painted image and pushing the paint through the mesh. This is one of those types of printing techniques where you never quite know what you’re going to get.
Mono screen print on canvas
thank you for coming
I hope you enjoyed it. To see more and follow me on my little adventure you can find me on social media search @iprintedthat on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or sign-up here to receive monthly emails.
Take care and hope to see you again soon.