a little something for the weekend

may i introduce to you another small installment in my virtual world travelogue..? here is another mixed media abstract on paper on canvas, in the ongoing series of diminutive travelling icons or iCons. this one is entitled venezia

mixed media canvas print venice venezia

venezia, 2010, 13cm x 13cm x 3cm, intaglio collagraph on paper on canvas

mixed media canvas print venice venezia

venezia is one of a new series of very small works (virtual travel ‘iCons’) that focus on colour and visual associations with locations around the world – but i never quite know where i will visit next. this one is quite formally patterned as an object and i have begun to envisage it as work in textiles, perhaps as a woven wall hanging or a rug.

the dark brown recalls the damp wood of mooring posts and the striations echo shop front canopies, and also the mineral traces of waterlines on the buildings. the very small but perfectly formed venezia iCon is up for some real-life travelling should anyone wish it to give it a room…

so, a virtual weekend break, spent in venice, italy… well, not exactly (if only), but this is where i landed

venice - gondola

however, venice is presently in my thoughts, as i recall memories of when i first visited, many years ago on a journey through italy. we arrived aching & mildly dazed after a through-the-night train journey (in economy class, naturally), venice shrouded in an early morning mist which mizzled on for most of the day – but venice seemed like a very accommodating place in which to get slightly disorientated…

 venice canal and boats

venice also reminds me of my first experience of italian ice cream (or gelato) and the visual array of textures & colours on view along the counter. i was amazed to discover that ice cream came in so many flavours, and then i savoured my first taste of the very aromatic pistachio. it was lighter and more crystalline in texture than british ice cream and i marvelled at the sophistication of its presentation, elegantly scooped up and served atop a stylish cone. it was something of a glacial epiphany when all i had previously known was raspberry ripple in a large tub (re-used as a lunch box when empty), cinema choc-ices and maybe a wall’s funny face

venezia now joins tuscany, pompeii, milano and roma in a somewhat unplanned & erratic virtual tour of italy… these very small travel iCons (visual shortcuts, suitably squared, the equivalent of pixels, as small mementos to my virtual journeys) will continue the cause & effect – that of the aesthetic of colour leading onto faraway places; the subtext needs no futher explanation…

so, i found myself being taken back to what seems to be the very source of things again, the endless fascination with the signs of weathering, neglect and decay. i took a lot of photographs during my inter-railing journey through europe (about seven rolls of film) – of the cities and their buildings, the doorways, windows and walls – and even the pavements – any structure or surface which seemed to exhibit the textures of time, the evidence of history that didn’t require a tour guide…

later that year, during my art & design diploma (the pre-requisite qualification prior to embarking on an art degree) i first encountered etching. the printmaking workshop was a small but brightly lit room, with windows that overlooked the museum next door. in the centre of the workshop was a very old star-wheeled etching press. this seemingly archaic contraption of print technology was a much revered object, a prized antique (which, of course, it was). our printmaking tutor would often play old jazz records to jolly us along, so the atmosphere was more convivial and relaxed in comparison to the painting & drawing studios…

this is my first ever etching (1985), very simply titled ‘a door in venice‘. the subject matter of an old, weathered door and crumbling, decayed brickwork seemed perfectly in tune with the intaglio etching processes of open bite and aquatint

a door in venice, etching, 1985

is it really twenty five years since the not-so-grand european tour?

it’s strange how the tide of time affects the memory of things, how those memories resurface when you least expect them to, when you come across something, a photograph or an object, something that both creates & completes the connection to the past, that takes you right back there, in an instant, and in that instant everything that has happened since seems to make perfect sense…


  1. Posted October 27, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Pistachio gelato…yum… a completely different animal to raspberry ripple.

    This series is so interesting and this latest one especially. I think a lot of these would translate well to textiles especially given the visually tactile quality of the paint surfaces. I visited Venice a couple of years ago so many beautiful colours and textures – enough for a lifetimes exploration. – Loved looking at the etching too by the way, is that one part of a series?

  2. Jazz
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    thank you for the comment, lisa…

    just the one etching back then, but it was my first, so was quite an exciting process – we also did linocuts and screenprinting as part of the printmaking module on the diploma.