“Limination tells you that you are in one spot and it’s not the same as what preceded it or what follows. It’s a way of creating a flow, a progress, like reading a book. As you pass through a gate, you’ve turned the page to a new chapter, and at the following gate, you start on the next chapter. Or, you could think of it as unrolling a hand scroll, turning as you go from one image to the next. It’s a choreography of space.” Alex Kerr - Another Kyoto.”
At the beginning of the year I began working on woodblock prints ‘In Praise of Saints’ after my visits to Queen Alexandra hospital in Portsmouth over the New Year.
While sitting in the hospital chapel I reflect on this new word ‘limination’ coined by Alex Kerr as he explores the concept of Kyoto’s stone paths that lead to the ancient temples. Along the path there are many gates. Each gate is an entry point into a new place, a new chapter and another path that continues to the next gate and the next and the next and so gradually “removes you step by step from the outer world”* making gentle progress towards your final destination; the temple.
This state of being between places and removing oneself from the outer world resonated with my time in the hospital. Watching my mum being rolled through a maze of corridors, from the emergency room, to acute medical, to the recovering wards. Each ward, a gate of entry to the next phase of recovery, with these new places came new nurses and doctors, new sounds and smells, new doses of intravenous therapy. My own perception of time warped and I was in the hospital ward bubble observing the gradual path of recovery and the desire for us all to be closer to the ‘temple’.
St Catherine of Siena & Florence Nightingale
There are twelve stained glass panels of saints in the QA hospital corridor and four inside the chapel. I initially had the idea to make prints of all the saints but I realised once I began the work, and Tony and Glen had asked me to take part in their exhibition, that I needed to scale down the project. I focused my energy on St Catherine of Siena, St Veronica, and Florence Nightingale. I carved two-colour woodblock prints of each saint, ommiting many elements from the original stained glass panels, focusing on the saint’s hands and faces and simplifying each composition. I printed the keyblock with Japanese carbon ink and watercolour for the background. The carved woodblocks were printed on Kitakata Japanese paper which is beautiful in texture but extremely delicate and a challenge to print!
In Praise of Saints - Shrine
On completion I explored the idea of framing the prints but after a visit to the framers I realise I didn’t want the images to be boxed in behind glass. I wanted to keep the lightness of the prints to evoke the lightness I received from the stained glass panels. Paper lanterns and Japanese sliding doors sprung to my mind.
“The sliding doors of the house itself and the cupnoards are made of paper mounted on a light wooden frame - so light they can be moved with a fingertip.” A Traditional Japanese House Bruno Munari.
I couldn’t work out how they should be displayed until I had a conversation with my friend and creative buddying partner Lilla Duignan. After much discussion about my process she suggested the idea of a shrine. It made complete sense and I set off in search of something that could lightly hold the space for these saints. Thanks to Bristol Reclamation I found a piece that was just the right size for the exhibition and enabled me to create a more reflective three dimensional piece allowing space for contemplation and invitation.
Thank you to all of you who came to The Golden Show exhibition at Centrespace Gallery. It was wonderful to see the little notes of gratitude gradually filling the bowl.
I have gifted most of these two-colour prints to friends and family who have been an integral part of this journey. I may print more if there is interest so do get in touch.