Visiting Amber Moir
Tell us about your creative process.
I rely on distinctive stages in my process to create a rhythm. Preparing, painting and then printing the plates all require different modes of working. Once printed, installation and presentation need to be considered, moving me into a new phase of the process. I use these shifts to maintain momentum in my practice. It also helps to identify areas that need to be developed, so that one phase does not feel more advanced than another.
In terms of the actual printing process - printing on and off the press begins with polishing a sheet of polypropylene plastic with gum arabic. I paint on the gummed plastic and allow it to dry, which means the plate can be reworked infinitely (oil monotypes need to be printed within a few hours of painting). The fabric (always calico) is pre-washed and ironed and then wet again.
I wanted to make work that challenged my control and forced a surrender to process. It's laid over the plate and sent through the press or walked over many times, while I push the pitch roller over the blanketed plate/fabric. The water in the fabric activates the paint and the pressure results in the work transferring from the plate to the fabric.
How did you move from printing traditional monotypes on paper to working with fabric and with a pitch-roller rather than a printing press?
I printed my first watercolour monotypes on fabric in art school, and began experimenting with prints hanging in space; influencing the movement of viewers in relation to the work. I think these early experiments stemmed from an impulse to pull the prints off the wall, wanting movement and forcing them to take up floor space. Printing on fabric opened up this potential, offering the malleability that paper couldn’t. I also started looking for ways of making larger works outside of the confines of the printing studio, this led to experiments outdoors, printing with the pitch-roller.
'I wanted to make work that challenged my control and forced a surrender to process.'
I still have a certain preoccupation with presence – possibly emphasised by the delicate nature of working in watercolour and inevitable loss of mark making/pigment in my process. I like these contradictions; quiet works demanding space, a particularly physical process producing ‘delicate’ works, large fabric works made using a medium that is traditionally reserved for small paper works.
What do you draw inspiration from?
Do you need solitude to work?
I appreciate a balance of solitude and the stimulation of engaging with others in my studio. Fellow artists are an enormous source of support and motivation and disrupt feeling too isolated. I do find noise distracting, and definitely notice and appreciate key moments of quiet during certain phases of my process.
Is titling your work an important part of the process?
I have a sense of an underlying net that links work together and helps me organise my thoughts and direction of new work. This 'net' includes medium, influences, restrictions and ideals. It’s constantly changing and mutating but without it, I lose direction completely. I see individual works as parts of this larger whole – and giving them titles help me understand where and how they fit into the larger body of work. Previous titles tended to allude mostly to fictitious scenes/scenarios. Recent titles hint more at how or why I set about making these works, offering small insights into my decisions and how they relate to other pieces within the same group.