About the Work: Printmaking
Monoprinting is a type of printmaking technique that involves the transfer of ink to produce a single, unique print: 1/1. Helen’s preferred method involves using a printing plate, consisting of a thin, flat section of metal or plastic, on which ink is applied in various ways. Once the desired image has been created, the wet plate is placed on the flat bed of her etching press, with a damp sheet of paper carefully positioned on top of it ready for printing. The entire press bed is manually fed through two metal rollers by turning the wheel, which applies pressure through the protective felt blankets and onto the plate, transferring the ink onto the paper.
Helen found that monoprinting could be used as an extension of her painting practice, by using ink in a painterly way to create pieces with the one-off nature of an oil painting. As with her paintings, her monoprints range from familiar landscape vistas to heavily simplified compositions, often employing the horizon line as a recurring motif and visual anchor.
Photopolymer Gravure is a printmaking technique Helen learnt while studying at the Finnish Academy of Fine Art. Combining photography with printmaking, the process is highly technical and time-consuming and requires specialist equipment and materials.
The desired photographic image is digitally printed onto a clear film and exposed several times onto a light-sensitive metal and polymer plate in a UV light cabinet. The polymer plate is then ‘developed’ in water, using a soft brush to reveal the image and remove any dirt and bubbles before being dried immediately under direct heat. To make it ready for use, it is exposed again in the UV cabinet to harden. After this, ink can be applied directly to the plate and the excess carefully wiped away. The ink sticks to the areas where the image has been exposed, and these are the areas that print when the plate is pulled through the press. As the image is now permanently fixed, several prints can be produced from the same plate. ‘After the Rain’ is Helen’s first completed Photopolymer print edition.