Carol Robertson, CRRT 97 20A, 1997, Monotype, © Carol Robertson, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York
Could you explain this work?
I made two sets of monotypes in the late 1990’s at the Garner Tullis Workshop in Santa Barbara CA. 1997 was the year of my first ever mono project and I worked with Garner’s son Richard Tullis, who also studied paper making in Japan. Richard made beautiful sheets of thick white pulp paper a centimetre thick which I worked on: the paper was an object, not just a sheet of paper.
The print I am writing about here is called CRRT 97 20A - Santa Barbara Series. The title has the prefix CRRT which stands for both my initials and Richard’s: then the year it was made, 1997, then a number 20 which indicates the sequence in which the prints were made and finally A which indicates it is with the artist. The set of prints were divided between the printer and myself. This mono is a simple blue grey ring with an opening at the top, one end straight, the other curved. The opening is like an entrance or exit, to or from an enclosed circular space.
What does this piece deal with?
I find the mono print process very direct and physical. I worked fast and instinctively, painting with oil paint directly on to an aluminium plate. It’s a primary process entirely dependent on painting, before transfer onto paper. Having access to a hydraulic press, extraordinary hand made paper and also given space to work in a vast open warehouse next to the ocean were key elements that brought the monotypes into being. I chose to use the hydraulic press but there was also a giant rolling press that I didn’t use, modified from a previous incarnation, pressing aircraft wings. Sam Francis, Richard Diebenkorn, Sean Scully, Catherine Lee, John Walker, Christopher le Brun, Ken Kiff were among the inspirational artists who worked at the Garner Tullis workshop, all making monotypes. My husband Trevor Sutton and I were introduced to Garner Tullis by Sean Scully.
What medium and techniques did you use?
I worked with a mixture of oil paint and a resin medium directly onto aluminium plates. The paper was then put under a hydraulic press, laid over the prepared plate and slowly pressed down at 800 tons of pressure into the paper, substantially flattening it in the process. The prints were always referred to as monotypes at the Tullis workshop because of the emphasis on painting rather than printing, and the fact oil paint was used and never printing ink.
What were the struggles of making it?
It truly wasn’t a struggle at all making this print….more of a joy to work in such a beautiful spacious west coast studio just trying things out in a very intuitive way. If i made something I didn’t like I just tore it up and started another.
What is the purpose behind this work?
in the late 1990’s I was making particular reference to archeological/architectural detail that I'd come across in Rome on a residency a few years before. I had been looking particularly at Classical Roman archeological sites. Many of the monotypes have a planform feel, as if viewed from above. This one with its open circle has a strong architectural reference.