The School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal, organized a series of ‘Learning by Making’ workshops as part of their Integral Studio in May 2015. It was an honor for me to be invited, as one of eleven experts, to share making skills with the students in my medium of choice- Analogue Printmaking.
In a time when digital technology allows us to create at scale at the click of a button, it’s even more relevant to revisit making techniques that are completely analog and, in a sense, very tangible and gratifying. My focus was to introduce the students to printmaking through this window of tangible gratification.
The four day workshop was structured around two carefully chosen techniques- Cyanotype printing, for its alchemical magic and Polaroid-like instant gratification, and Linocut printing, for the patience it demands and the textural, graphic quality of prints. After a quick, hands-on demonstration of the techniques, students were encouraged to find stories in their life and surroundings to translate into artwork, which were then turned into prints. Each step was a process of abstraction and reduction. The focus was on experimentation and deriving joy out of the process of printmaking.
Cyanotype Selfies brought a different kind of square format to the Instagram generation, and demanded that each student express themselves on a 1m x 1m canvas. Techniques like body masking, object masking and negative contact printing were explored. The result was a big wall of soulful, graphic and vivacious images in different hues of indigo.
While Cyanotypes were about collaboration & teamwork, Linocut printmaking was an engaging, involved process at an individual level. Students were pushed to achieve a better understanding of figure-ground & the relationship between an object and its surroundings. A more inward process, it made them observe, think, sketch, iterate, reiterate, improvise and eventually translate their artwork on linoleum sheets in preparation for printing. Carving linoleum turned out to be a very meditative and rewarding experience for most students, and the outcomes were stark, graphic architectural prints rich in perspective, texture and sciagraphy.