I visited the fen for a few days every month during the Fen Raft
Spider's active period from May until October collecting as much visual
information as the weather would permit working alongside Dr Helen
Smith. Early stages of the residency were spent in the studio
experimenting with a variety of print techniques in readiness for more
worked images later and I started piecing together the hugely
complicated anatomy of arachnids.
Etching on zinc using copper sulphate and salt mordant. A spider has
four pairs of hairy legs with spines which are made up of several
articulated segments with claws on the tip. They are used for movement,
capturing prey and defence and are important for grooming. They have a
sensory ability for touch and taste. They also sense air movements and
Collagraph using PVA and carborundum grit experimenting with the
technique to explore its potential to create a tonal, textural image.
When inking up the plate grit holds ink whilst it can be wiped off the
smoother surface of PVA. There is a tactile quality to the image
suggesting weathered surfaces.
Linocut allows a dramatic use of black and white in the design of an
image. This study illustrates the extraordinary ability of this spider
to catch aquatic prey, often larger than itself. Fine marks depict the
down covering all of the spider's body. This cocoons the spider in a
layer of air as it dives underwater providing an effective water
Wood engraving. The precise marks made in this method of printmaking
allow a methodical, analytic drawing of the spider's jaws and palps. At
the bottom of the jaws the fangs are visible which are used for
injecting venom into prey.
Etching on copper using ferric chloride and citric mordant. There are
two sections to the body of the spider, the cephalothorax, which
includes the head, and abdomen. The image illustrates the characteristic
banding on its body giving effective camouflage when the spider rests
amongst the water margins of pools mimicking reflections around the
Collagraph using PVA, grasses, string, and carborundum grit building a
relief image on card. The varied textures on the plate allow use of
layers of colour applied with wiping and surface rolling. This creates
an impression of a blurred underwater world with shadowy colours and
forms of weeds and algae.