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Memento Mori

21 May

I spent some time last year working on mixed media pieces, trying out different combinations of materials and techniques. This one combined drawing, watercolour and screenprinting. I started with an A1 sheet of Somerset 250gsm and squeegeed some acrylic System 3 paint, mixed with Acrylic Medium across it, giving a randomised background colour. Then I made a photographic screen of repeats of a drawing I did of a human vertebra and printed it on top in a lighter colour, making a rather macabre wallpaper effect. I separately did two drawings in pencil and watercolour, one from a life model I work with regularly at the life drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop. The skull is drawn from a female skeleton who lives at the Elysium Studios. Her name is Felicity. I cut the screenprinted paper and mounted the watercolours from behind.

The piece is called ‘Two Women’ and is in the spirit of ‘Memento Mori‘, a tradition in European [and latterly American] art, dating back to Roman times, where the viewer is reminded that death is the inevitable consequence of life, typically by including a skull. Memento Mori often overlaps with the similar tradition of ‘Vanitas’ in European art. By putting the dead and living heads in the same pose, I try to emphasise that ultimately the two women are linked by death.

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