For about six weeks now I have been watching Daksha work. Taking part in her drawing workshops, watching her make prints and watching her collection of prints and drawings grow. Sometimes distracting her with too much talk!
Very briefly, she makes prints as follows:
1) She selects an object – something from the teaching cabinet (these are anatomical models cast in plastic, sometimes wax – models of the human embryo, models of the brain, the kidney etc.) – or something from the Life Sciences Museum (shells, bones, whole skeletons, feathers, snake skin, sponge, etc., but also plastic models of soft bodies specimens like molluscs).
2) She covers it in paper (her expensive Japanese paper) so that she can’t see it – and then using water, with her hands and fingertips she stretches, moulds and rounds that paper to the object. Then she lets it dry. In this way this paper takes to objects form and holds it. In her words: “the paper has a memory” and when she detaches the paper later – when it is dry – lo, it holds the 3D print – it remembers what had been pressed into it. But also, sometimes …
3) …Before carefully removing separating the paper form the object, Daksha also sometimes inks the paper surface. She does this with her ‘tampers. Sponges bound in cloth, dipped in pigment and then blotted on the paper surface. This picks out the texture of the object on the surface of the paper. This is possible, because the paper surface already carries the physical impression of the object it is wrapped upon – the highs and lows of surface texture – and the tamper only marks the portions which are raised. It is very like the ways children sometimes make pencil rubbing coins over paper.
And as I say – very briefly – that is what she does. The prints – displayed within the teaching space are made like that. Some of them are shown as photographs in Daksha’s Blog. The look very solid. The overall effect of impressed shape and surface pigment is the presentation of a solid form. And this appearance of solidity – and weight - is particularly strong when the prints are made from things we see as being strong and heavy: bones and shells and rocks etc. But pick them up and they are tissue paper light and breezy. They might blow away.