Winner of the R.K. Burt prize at the 2014 National Original Print Competition, Paul Thirkell will be exhibiting his prints this August at the R.K. Burt Gallery for Ex-Machina (from the machine).
Over twenty works by Thirkell will be shown across the two-floor gallery, displaying the artist’s wide range of printmaking techniques, from collotypes to etchings to inkjet prints.
What unites these different forms of printmaking is Thirkell’s imagery, which is based upon scientific and natural history illustrations sourced from old encyclopaedias and journals, which he avidly collects. Thirkell brings these illustrations in to the modern world by manipulating them through new digital processes, before printing them again, often using traditional printmaking methods, such as the collotype, to retain the look and feel of their original source.
By merging both old and new techniques, Thirkell describes how his Ex-Machina prints evoke ‘a dream-like quality that would no longer make sense as scientific illustrations.’ Rather, Thirkell’s prints work like the subconscious – bringing together memories and present-day events all at once.
Colour is a fundamental part of Thirkell’s work, made possible by his pioneering research into the possibilities of inkjet printing in the past decade. His use of vibrant colours ‘is a reaction against people’s assumption that prints are always black and white - I like my prints to explode with vivid colour.’
Thirkell’s constant drive to push the boundaries of printmaking draws direct inspiration from Britain’s Godfather of Pop Art, Richard Hamilton, who was similarly fascinated by new digital technologies. Yet Thirkell retains great respect for old-world methods and what they can offer modern artists when fused with digital technology.