Etching in Durban South Africa (Part 1)

The two plates were first drawn while working at Peacock Printmakers in Aberdeen in the early nineties but were never finished nor proofed. Taking them to Durban to finish and edition may seem like a strange thing when there are at least four, if not five Artists Printmakers Workshops in Scotland. The cost of the technician would have been greater and the cost of using the facilities would have been greater in Scotland, and I would have also spent more than the air fare on hotels and food had I decided to print here. But the main reason is that I have always found working in Durban to be an aid to concentration with no distractions.



Both plates were in a bad way having been sitting around in store for 20 years, even though they had been covered in a protective coat of lacquer.



Working with Sharon Sanders McClelland who runs the printing studio and who acted as technician.


Much redrawing and re-biting and re-aquatinting was necessary before either plate would be ready to edition. The drawings themselves came for a series of drawings I had made of Eunice in the 1980ís. These drawings are a constant source and have been behind several of the works since that time. Some like these two etching plates developing and moving forward in deferent time spaces. This shows that much in art is a progressive and developmental process and things come to fruition in time and in their own way. Many years ago when visiting the painter Pat Heron I noticed a painting on his wall which was clearly unfinished. I asked him how long it had been there and he answered since the mid sixties. Why havenít you finished it I asked? Iím waiting for it to tell me what is needed to finish it he replied. So I am never surprised when work from years ago resurfaces and says that now is the time to finish it.


Test printing is all important in etching. One never really knows where one is at until that test print is made.


Burnishing also plays a significant part. Despite having been protected by lacquer, the various moving around the plates suffered first from Peacock Printmakers to the then home at Milton of Minnes and then south to Kirkcudbright, then in and out of various storage places in Loch Fergus,  all took their toll and created scratches in places where there should not be scratches! The only way to deal with these was by elbow grease. Etching is slow, and it is important to be patient.



Deepening some of the lines on one of the two plates, which was a single study of Eunice got nicknamed the ďDurban Madonna.Ē  I have no recollection who started calling it that, and although it is named and signed as a Study of Eunice, I think that it will always be thought of under its nickname.




Checking one test print against another.