This dress was made to represent the people who came to Preston from Bangladesh – mostly from the Sylhet district. The national flower is the shapla waterlily or Nymphaea nouchali.
I took the mid green colour for the dress from the flag. After I had made up the bodice and skirt (thankfully not the sleeves) I thought that there was not enough contrast between the front skirt panel with flowers and the side panels.It was a bit reckless re-colouring the side and back panels a darker green at at this stage, but luckily it worked. I also experimented with a red waistband and collar detail ( to represent the red part of the flag) but I decided against that addition, as it detracted from the waterlily detail.
Sadly I think this is the last dress that I have time to make for the exhibition, though there were a couple more I had in mind, particularly to cover the much earlier migration to Preston from Ireland.
It is a long time since I did a print run – I have either made a collection of one-offs for prints in a suitcase for Holocaust Memorial Day 2014, or made digital prints – mainly due to body problems. But it is a particular pleasure to make a whole lot the same. I remember how delighted I was with my first ever print experience at Laurieston Hall of making 100 flower screenprints from a paper stencil – I didn’t know that was thought impossible, so I just did it.
I learnt to make lino prints from Mike Pemsel at a class run by Mid Pennine Arts way back in the 80s.
This week I set up a tiny print space with plastic sheet to protect the other stuff eg the sewing machine. Today it was a challenge to relearn old skills. First of all I forgot my colour mixing principles and squeezed out too much black in proportion to the green, so I have a lot of ink left on the board. Then I had to remind myself to get into a meditative space, as it is the only way to avoid mistakes.
It is a bit bad to blame the tools, but I began to wonder if the roller was slightly warped due to age, as inking up took me ages. But the plate is pretty good – there is only one small area of background that sometimes catches. And it is so hard to keep my fingers clean.
I can’t apply enough pressure to the press with my arms, so I have it on the floor and use my foot on the handle. I am much better pleased with these prints than the test ones I rubbed with a spoon, and I am glad to say that I can’t see the place where I had to glue a piece of the lino back on after a mistaken cut (lack of meditation clearly.)
I made the 20 prints of the whole lotus design that I needed for the dress, (it was another challenge to find enough drying space) then it was time for a break – coffee and burritos were on offer in the Forgebank Cohousing Common House for brunch, so I was very grateful for that.
Back to the studio to make 60 prints of flowers onto maps of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujurat which used up 3 maps. The ink takes very differently on the map paper – which I should have foreseen. I am not sure that all the flower prints will be usable. Although all the maps are by Nimes, one map seems to have a different finish, which is causing problems. I was getting very hot and stripped off my T shirt and just wore my overalls.
Still lots of ink left, so I made 7 more prints and 21 more flower prints using other parts of the map of India, but I was beginning to make more and more mistakes, so I decided to clean up, using vegetable oil and an old toothbrush, and took the rags straight out to the bin to reduce fire risk.
We had fire awareness training last week at Halton Mill, which is where I have my studio. I was pretty useless and decided I would only start the alarm and then run away if there was a fire, and not try to use the extinguishers.