Slow Learner 1–32 - 2007

“trial and error           we find the centre” (1)

My first concern in addressing these copper plates was to find the centre. Thinking of Beckett, and of Michelangelo, too, I used those ‘compasses in [my] eyes,’ as recommended. (2) I failed, of course, but next time failed better. And I thought of Eva Hesse, and “that certain pleasure of proving [myself] against perfection”.(3)

Most characteristic of this project, though, was the way I tried to integrate into my work on the plate exactly what I observed in the proofing: I thought that if I, too, could ‘square up’ my plate, and my body; if I could maintain consistent pressure on my graver; and if I could ‘roll’ through the plate with fluidity and ease, then not only would I get a good drawing/gravure, but there would be a nice integrity between the making and the production of the prints.

With my stance wide open now – right leg forward, the left leg poised behind – I hoped to add spring to my lines. Real control sets in only on the fourth day: thus the title of the suite Slow Learner.

(1) Tamar Yoseloff, ‘Marks’, a poem based on the works of Linda Karshan. Published in the artist’s book, Marks, in collaboration with Linda Karshan (Pratt Editions, 2007), and in the author’s collection Fetch (London: Salt Publishing, 2007).

(2) Vasari’s ‘Life of Michelangelo’. Michelangelo said that one should have compasses in one’s eyes, not in one’s hands, because the hand executes but it is the eye which judges.

(3) Lucy Lippard, Eva Hesse (New York: Da Capo, 1992), p. 142.