The book is of a peculiar and unsettling
sensuousness - and its origins are equally extraordinary, as the artist
'In Lanzarote, Catalana Blanca is the
local name for a large cactus, a prickly pear which bears white-fleshed fruit.
For a long time two of these giant plants dominated the view from our house
there, standing amongst the stone and lava in front of a windswept
'When they died and dried out, all the human
quality they had had while they were alive seemed to disappear. However the
ossified fibres were interesting, and I began to experiment with them as the
raw material of prints, using first a photocopier and then a large and
extremely sophisticated copying machine in an architects' office on Lanzarote.
The results were totally surprising and unexpected; it was almost as if the
human qualities were resuscitated by the process. Those that I had covered in
canvas (to hide them from the staff of the pristine photocopying shop)
resembled classical sculpture, others captured the fissured lava landscape of
Lanzarote - something I had been trying to do in 27 years of painting
'The selection process
took a long time - I had huge bags of off-cuts of second and third generation
photocopies, and all kinds of things suggested themselves that I didn't want.
It was like the automatic working of the Surrealists, but through modern
technology. Eventually I settled on the images I wanted to use based on
collages of the largest available pieces.'
'I then started to look for a text - I
thought the images needed a parallel in creative writing. A neighbor suggested
Lorand Gaspar, well known as a poet and as a photographer, who responded almost
immediately. He provided two new poems in his own handwriting and gave me
permission to use fragments from a previously published work, Sol Absolu,
published by Gallimard.'
'It's not just photocopying. The
distinguished writer and print historian Pat Gilmour calls the results digital
aquatints because the carbon baked or melted onto the archival quality paper in
the heat process is similar to the process and tonality to the traditional
aquatint. It has been a very exciting project.'
Catalana Blanca will be launched at Bankside
Gallery on 30 May 2000.