Three women sit on a bench huddled close together. Backs to us, their arms wrap around each other snuggly, they look intimate and protected. Heads bent forward with faces close, these women are in the middle of a private moment, excluding the rest of the world. Rain falls from black clouds in the sky above, whilst overhead telephone wires stretch across poles from either side of the women, as if framing them. They are centre and focus of the print.
Dressed the same in red lace they look richly clothed, decorative and feminine. Their relationship is explored through their appearance. Bold red ink and joint delicate lines in the lace run across all three figures, suggesting the unity and strength brought by being together.
Gathering Storm is an etching by contemporary artist Corinna Button, created in 2006. Inspired by social relationships and scenes noticed in her everyday day life, she explores what could be the overlooked hidden significance and meanings. Whilst taking a postgraduate degree in printmaking, she discovered prints by the German Expressionist movement, who greatly influenced her work, traces of which can be found in Gathering Storm. The women’s’ figures are simplified in shape, each one appears in a form of the others, drawn together as a group. The black, gestural lines that skim around them also create the clouds, the bench, poles and wires. In the black clouds the ominous title is reflected, felt within the scene by the heavy use of black ink and shadows. As can be found in German Expressionist work, here is a social moment in a modern world. An anxious mood is felt in this world set about the women, expressing disquiet from their presence.
At first view, the closeness of the women holding one another, their stooped posture, suggested sorrow to me. They could be comforting one another, in a moment of tenderness as their heads rest together. However, just as easily their close, hunched posture could imply whispering, secrets, planning something sinister. Weaving of dark intentions, as their arms weave around their bodies binding them together. The rain clouds could be allegorical to tears and sadness, or to the trouble that they are brewing. A storm could mean both sadness or anger.
Gathering Storm is created in layers, by etching on copper, mono-printing with lace, wiping away ink and printing again on top. Giving and taking, carving out a story and filling it in. Technically and emotionally some elements are revealed, others stay hidden under the surface. Like peering through lace, we see a partial view, given a tantalising glimpse of what lies beneath. Never being able to know what really is happening, makes this print so intriguing. You are left to wonder.
Hannah Demaine – Art History
After Thoughts is a wood engraving mounted on grey card by the artist Francis Arthur Fraser in 1869. The engraving displays a middle-aged man sitting on a chair. The man is dressed quite well which suggests status. He is wearing a dark blazer, trousers and slippers which suggests that he might be in his own house. His eyes are closed, he looks very relaxed and not worried about much at all. The man seems to be quite well off and is simply enjoying some leisure time. However, it is difficult to tell if he is just thinking or if he is asleep.
The Victorian Era is the period from when Queen Victoria started her reign in 1837 to 1901 when she passed away. High morals, progress and Christian ethics are some of the terms that describe this period. In the Victorian society the class system was quite dominant. From the mentioned characteristics of the portrayed figure it seems that he belongs to either the middle class or even upper middle class.
The background of the artwork shows an idealized scene of nature. A waterfall, birds, flowers and some greenery. The man has seemingly painted this detailed scene of nature in his dreams. Whereas the foreground consists of the figure in a chair, a side table, an open book on top of it and some journals leaning against it. The foreground of the engraving shows that he is indoors, but the background is clearly an outdoors scene.
Francis Arthur Fraser also known as ‘Frank’ was born on 1846 and died in 1924. Fraser was a prolific illustrator. As he made quite a lot of engravings similar to the discussed. Even though the number of engravers was rising, the printing industry was posing a threat to the process and art of engraving.
The artist might have wanted to show a scene from everyday life. A man sinking in his thoughts after reading a paragraph of his favourite book. To show that even successful people or people living well dream of better times or more beautiful places to visit.
Zena Murniece – Art History