In order to get to this as a final image, I first went through a multitude of different versions, on tracing paper, transparent paper, moving the ink around the surface of the transfer. Although these were interesting experiments, I ended up coming back to the original images and starting from scratch again to find the particular, mediated quality I was after.
In Nebula photographs of clouds over south east London are transferred onto the wall and hang below lithographs of solid matt colours. The images reference Constable’s romantic cloud studies, while questioning what looking at the sky means in the 21st century: with airplanes that menace, and changing environments, the sky is a place of fear rather than contemplation. The colours appeal to a nostalgic longing for a time when the clouds meant sublime melancholy. The piece plays with ideas of permanence and impermanence, as the wall images deteriorate and change with the light, while the lithographs remain static. The lithographs represent the essence of the light reflected in each of the clouds.
The name ‘tondo’ comes from the Renaissance period, and is “the ultimate in constructed painting. It is demanding both formally and metaphorically” (William Zimmer, The Tondo, in Art Journal, Vol. 50, No. 1, Constructed Painting (Spring, 1991), pp. 60-63-Published by: College Art Association).
Zimmer goes on to say that, “the tondo is the most harmonious and self-contained of shapes, but it is also the most radically demanding. The shape comes first, and the content submits to it, or else balks in opposition” (pp.60)
For me using the support of an embroidery hoop meant that this sugarlift etching on Japanese shozo paper takes on the shape of a ‘tondo’, while denying it as well- It is a support that reminded me of an intimate and solitary act- that of sitting doing embroidery, while in this case the shapes of the etching and the stretched, translucent paper work to bring a delicate hand made feel to the piece. The image is a meditation on a the light as it plays on the surface of water. It was my first piece using sugar lift as a technique and the results on the paper were varied at first. Once I had printed a dozen or so, I then chose two that I thought would work best in terms of their tone to cut and stretch onto the embroidery hoop. Here is the other one:
They seemed to work well as a pair, although there was some criticism of the embroidery hoop as a support. I created more of them, smaller and larger versions, but haven’t felt able to exhibit them together. These other versions work best on their own and there is nothing to gain from placing them together, as I had originally planned. The tondo was always a deliberate construct and perhaps Zimmer is right when he says that the content submits to the shape.