As this year's theme for Pushing Print is 'applied print', I've been deemed appropriate to give a talk about whatever I like. (I make a daily habit of applying print to unusual things you see)
I've entitled my talk 'The Potential of Print', and intend to only briefly touch on my own work before moving on to discuss what I feel are the fantastic ways that this process can be used outside of paper or fabric, and those who are diversely wielding it in 2 and 3D. Some of this information I deliberately don't even know yet, and am excited about researching for the next few months. More than ever I was keen to give a contemporary talk that was more than just the life and work of Z.Murphy.
The article below will feature in the Pushing Print newspaper and is an introduction to my talk. Please join me - 11am on the 13th October at the Pushing Print festival - to see what I have found out!
Details of tickets can be found on the website for Pushing Print.
The Potential of Print.
By Zoe Murphy
As a person who makes things for a living, I have always been indifferent to surface in the very best of ways. This might seem a strange notion, as craftspeople are usually remembered for their ability to value a particular material. They will work to highlight the individuality of their chosen medium and attempt to distinguish it from other metals/wood/textiles. Oddly enough, I contrast to this in having a very unbiased approach to the surfaces I come across. This has turned out to be a driving force for my work in print.
It is thanks to this sort of material-blindness that I have developed into a designer that subconsciously ignores a lot of the conventional uses for materials. One that doesn’t initially see the difference between fabric, metal, and timber, - I credit them all with the same potential and possibility. I print onto fabric, on to wood, glass, and on to laminates and Formica, using them all for anything from furniture to jewellery. It would not be an obscure idea to me to think of applying the same process to a floor, or a wall, or a car, or a person. Although it is always compulsory to refine the process after exploring the material, I still think this kind of ‘well why not?’ approach to a newly discovered surface has been fundamental to my work.
When I was studying for my BA in Textile design, I realised that I often included found objects or surfaces in my design work. This then quickly turned into using my design work on found objects or surfaces, and I finally created a series of re-used furniture and textiles that were entirely decorated using screen-printing. There followed a wonderful amount of interest from my graduation show and it allowed me to set up my own design business in Margate creating more of the same kind of furniture and textiles.
This love of indiscriminately printing onto everything that sits still, marries perfectly with the other driving force behind my work – my huge compulsion to try and reduce waste. Armed with the notion of ‘I don’t care what it is, I’ll print on it’, I have used this favourite process of mine to recycle chests of drawers, silk from wedding dresses, kitchen tables, and all manner of other surfaces and objects. It is paramount to me that consumers have a stronger relationship with the things that they use, even more so that these objects might be ones that are in existence already and not being appreciated to their full potential. So I try to use my printed designs as a life saving tool to re-use surfaces that seem to have exhausted their current function, either because they are damaged or because they are dated.
Print, for me, allows that wonderful injection of colour or image that can recapture the attention of a consumer, usually because they are chosen specifically for that consumer. All objects should be designed timelessly and well in the first place, but most 21st century homes are full of surfaces that weren’t. I have long been struck with the idea that print can be a way of getting these items closer to a situation where people don’t want to use them up and throw them out.
My talk at Pushing Print this year will illustrate some of the pieces I make, but will also look at the possibilities of the process of screen-printing. Paper and fabric are what is associated with this very traditional oriental method, but I will be looking just how broad the application can be, and giving examples of contemporary makers who are truly ‘pushing print’.