Edition of 55
Three plate colour photo polymer and aquatint printed on Zerkall Intaglio 250gsm
Paper dimension: 36 x 38 cm
Image dimension: 12 x 34 cm
Warren Editions is very proud to announce the Edition ‘S’ 2012 artist – Heleen Schröder. Schröder is the fourth artist of the Edition ‘S’ project, launched by Warren Editions in September 2009. Schröder collaborated with Zhané Warren to make a three-plate colour print crafted in photo polymer and aquatint entitled Souvenir; printed as an edition of 55 on Zerkall Intaglio 250gsm paper. Accompanying the edition are 5 Artist’s Proofs, 4 Printer’s Proofs, a Publisher’s Proof, Hors Commerse and Bon á Tirer. Printed by Jan Philip Raath and Morné Visagie.
Heleen Schröder’s artistic practice centres on personal drawings and translating them into public forms. By virtue of its informal intimacy and spontaneous directness, the sketchbook is her ideal medium. To draw and make notes are for her ways of looking at and understanding the world – and she aims to retain this immediacy in work made for exhibition. The search for a means to translate the private expression of the sketchbook page into public forms remains an engaging artistic challenge. She exhibits regularly in the Netherlands and South Africa, with work ranging from pencil or ink drawings, watercolours, acrylics, and various graphic media to artist’s books and, most recently, ceramic tablets. Regardless of the medium, and whether handling a brush or a stylus, she regards the resulting work as drawing rather than painting. Heleen studied in two separate fields, graphic design and philosophy, and worked in both. In 2002 she moved to the Netherlands, where she has since worked as an artist. She has taught drawing and illustration in Pretoria and currently works as an artists’ assistant and freelance graphic designer in Rotterdam.
The Artist’s Statement on Souvenir
My interest in making prints arises in the first place from a love of the specific kinds of lines and marks that are characteristic of the various graphic media. As a lover of books and paper, I am stimulated by the idea of multiplying a drawing and sending it into the world. I have, however, never much liked working out a composition intended for a print and then transferring it to the plate; my initial drawings had always lost something of their freshness in this process. So I had come to Warren Editions with the express desire to react to my surroundings in a direct, spontaneous, unmediated way. I wished to treat the etching plate like a page from my sketchbook. I started work on a series of drawings of my fellow commuters on the train to the city every morning. I drew directly onto brass plates I had prepared with etching ground; I felt solidarity with the coming and going, the river of people streaming to work and home again. I felt satisfied that I was ‘reacting’, that I was engaged, that I was in the midst of life. But upon entering the studio each morning, there it lay, the mountain with its changing moods and unchanging presence. I started drawing the mountain. I immediately had to start adding sheets of paper to the one I had started on, because the mountain is too big to contain.
When Zhané Warren invited me to participate in Edition S, I was thrilled that she suggested I draw the view from the studio on Roeland Street. The idea of working directly onto the plate excited me; this would be direct, I thought. Unmediated. For a moment I thought I could use the polished plate as a Claude glass onto which I would be able to directly trace the reflection of the view, as I had heard other artists have done, though in the end it seemed simpler to just draw what I saw. And then when the first print was pulled, my heart sank, because it was the wrong mountain. In my excitement about the drawing and the process and having a master printer print my work, I had forgotten the first elementary characteristic of most prints: the print is a mirror image of the drawing on the plate. So what had recognisably been a bit of Table Mountain with the cable car and the soft slopes and the tree lines fraying the lower ridges had become a generic romantic view of a generic mountain. Swiss, we thought it looked. We agreed that I would have to start over.
When I returned to the land without mountains we started talking of other ways to collaborate. The proof print on my studio wall was a memento of a happy work period – and a teasing reminder of fallibility. Zhané proposed executing the project as a photopolymer; in this way my geographic location would be no objection. I could make a long distance drawing. Consulting my preparatory sketches, and the first proof print, and the pictures I had taken with my phone, I started working on some new drawings, in ink this time; two drawings of the same view for the two colour plates. What I found, however, was that I was also consulting my memory and using these other visual sources as supplements; I remembered the ‘soft slope’ Zhané kept mentioning in the studio, and I searched for it in my contour drawings; I remembered the dark and light planes as the mountain started casting its shadow in the afternoons, and I emphasised the tonal difference I found in my photographs. I was not, I realised, reacting to what I saw unmediated. I was constructing, imagining, inventing. As all memory is construction and as even the most naturalistic depiction is also invention. Some neurologists now say that our purest perception is itself a construct of our brain, mediated by our cultural environment. This means that perception and depiction are also, from the start, collaborations. Which makes the collaborative print a particularly satisfying form with which to meditate on the puzzles of distance and proximity, absence and presence, naturalism and abstraction, mimesis and invention.
When I started writing this statement I returned to a question I had set myself at the outset: who needs another picture of Table Mountain? Isn’t it a bit of a cliché? But then, I remind myself, who needs another design of a chair or a typeface? Who needs another baby? We find ourselves in the world, and we react to it – these are life-affirming impulses. ‘Cliché’ is a term from printing, after all; clichés help us see, understand, and remember. What I have made in collaboration with Warren Editions is a picture postcard: I am here now, and this is what I see.