The new academic year begins tomorrow, Monday, so this should be the appropriate time to sum up my first semester as a project student at the Royal Institute of Art.
Mostly I’ve been working in the lithography workshop, where Patrick Wagner has an eye and a helping hand for everything and everyone. I’ve printed from two stones alternately; one fairly small, the other one large (and heavy)… The procedure for stone lithography goes something like this: grain the stone repeatedly with sand and water, until it has a clean, smooth surface; draw the image upon it; etch the image into the stone with acid and gum arabicum; roll up with printing ink; print. And then, clean up.
Upstairs from the litho workshop is the common area of the graphic department. Along the wall, tables are lined up in a row – one of those is at my personal disposal. I have chosen this place because usually, it’s just in the thick of things… Now, this early winter morning, the room is still dark and silent. I light the lamp and unpack my things. Dawn is breaking.
Getting a better grip of graphic techniques, following lectures and meeting artists, being likewise challenged and encouraged, seeing old things in new ways… I even think I’m beginning to see the outlines of what I’m doing here. Idiosyncratic as it may be, I’m working on a dictionary. An imaginary.
Almost midnight, moon is high. How can all metal plates fit together in the grid of triangles? It’s about time to conclude, to make pictures overlap. Sizes differ, rearrangements are necessary. This is just underways. Not arrived yet…
Iron/steel; watercolour and graphite on paper.
Iron, with symbol Fe and chemical number 26, is the fourth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, and by mass the most common element on Earth; melting temperature 1538°C and boiling temperature 2862°C. Iron exists in at least four different crystal structures, changing with temperature. At 770°C (the so-called Curie point) it becomes magnetic.
The reddish colour of planet Mars derives from minerals rich in iron oxide, and meteorites found on Earth can contain up to 95% iron – often mixed with nickel. Iron beads found in Egypt have been dated back to at least 3500 BCE; as the material also contains nickel, it bears witness of meteoric origin. Iron production from metallic ore only began some hundred years later. In biology, iron compounds are key components in oxygen transporting (hemoglobin), cellular respiration, oxidation and reduction.
Pure iron is soft, but can be hardened by a smelting process including carbon. The resulting alloy is called steel. Rust is the common name for iron oxide.
Iron oxides (“earth pigments”) are also among the oldest known pigments, in use since prehistoric times. There exist a range of different colours, from yellow (ochres) and red (siennas, Venetian red, caput mortuum) to brown (umbers) and black. A synthetic compound with carbon and nitrogen, known as Prussian blue, yields an intense metallic blue colour.
copper; watercolour and graphite on paper.