new works 2014: head on and the osgood suite | 2014

Michael Spens The Art Newspaper obituaryMichael Spens died on 28 March 2014, 18 years after the discovery of renal cell carcinoma. Studio International, The Arts Newspaper, The Scotsman, The Age, Melbourne and the Canberra Times all published excellent obituaries. The funeral service at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in St Andrews with eulogies by Arthur Watson PRSA, Richard Demarco and author Christopher Rush, and conducted by Canon Jonathon Mason was beautiful. The loss of Michael, husband of 27 years has been utterly disorienting, and it has been impossible to work until August, and then only with expert assistance of friend Arthur Watson.

The chainsaw woodcuts proved difficult to print as layers of the plywood kept peeling during the inking of the blocks. Master printer Arthur Watson (who established the Peacock Printmakers in Aberdeen in 1974) enabled the transfer of the three images onto silkscreens. A further four colour separations were created enabling four more complex images to be made: Head On (i-iv). The silkscreen versions were created with 3–5 colours, and were made using as their departure point – the oil and wood ash painting of the same title – from 2008, just as the four chainsaw wood blocks (January 2013) had been. The end results were more technically demanding and more theatrical. The process is replete with possibilities for future works.

Combining chainsaw woodcuts with silk screen printing processes is very exciting because it has enabled the merging of two hitherto quite separate strands of my work: Landscape and Theatre (puppets, dolls and Bauhaus influences). The Osgood Suite of paintings is ongoing and was the subject of my Keynote paper delivered at the conference Crossing the Line 2: Drawing in the Middle East, organised by The Centre for Global Drawing, Melbourne and the American University in Dubai in September 2014.