Issue 210
September/October 2019


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Sep 16, 2019

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September/October 2019 (6.8MB)

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Natural progression

IT IS UNSURPRISING that 'A Natural World', Jane Raven's exhibition of prints at Edinburgh's Dundas Street Gallery next month, is full of images of plants, seeds, mushrooms, seaweed and fish. Jane's twin sister is the gardening author and broadcaster, Sara Raven and their father, John Raven, was a Cambridge Classics tutor and amateur botanist, so plants are in her DNA.

Jane's artistic background is in glass and stone, but ten years ago, she went back to the drawing-board and began to paint flowers, in gesso and acrylic, then egg tempera and pigment.

In time, she abstracted the flower depictions and incorporated lettering. In this, she was helped by personnel at the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh, who had recently published Wild Flowers, a sketchbook, featuring the diaries and water colours of her father and grandfather.

'Linking' her botanically with her father, who died in 1980, the book's editor gave Jane access to the RBGE's herbarium, which contains 3 million pressed flowers, some presented by John Raven himself.

Jane was not only impressed by the specimens in the herbarium but by the lettering accompanying each flower, (some of it from the early 18th century). This gave her the idea to 'trace' it on to her work.

Print-making is now Jane's preoccupation and the natural world of seeds, fish and seaweed has taught her much about this practice, as well as giving her captivating subject-matter.

She employs a variety of technique: copper and zinc plate etching; Toyobo, a printing technique enabling her to transpose photographs on to a plate so that a tiny mushroom spoor print is photographed and blown up to whatever size she wishes; Gyotaku (Japanese fish prints), a traditional process where fishermen in Japan recorded their catch by placing rice paper over a fish and creating its image by rubbing the paper with a crayon, much like a European brass rubbing is made.

Jane also uses monotypes, relief prints and stone lithographs.

A NATURAL WORLD, Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ, October 4-6. Mon 7th by appointment only.

MARY GLADSTONE



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