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Stephen has been making kites and aeroplane prints for the last 40 years. The latest aeroplanes were inspired by an uncle who made model aeroplanes in the 1950s. The prints are as much about the craft of making, as they are a gentle delight in challenging the notions of what constitutes a print and where the perceived borders between the fine and applied arts, end and begin.
Trained as a printmaker, Stephen ran a large art and science research centre, CFPR, covering the lifespan of this exhibition, but his true love is the process of making. Whilst the research allowed access to new technologies and processes that are becoming, or have become, part of the canon of printmaking. He has an innate dislike of badly made work and uses the term the craft of making deliberately. He tries to make an economical structure that has elegance and hopefully a beauty.
Paying homage to traditional kite manufacture, from Japan, Thailand, Nepal and India, combined with a love of model aeroplanes, the works are only possible due to a marriage of late Twentieth Century technology and the unsurpassable quality of a delicate sheet of hand made paper.
Within the work, the imagery is screen or digitally printed onto handmade paper from Asia. Only delicate hand made sheets such as these are capable of being formed around compound glass fibre, laser-cut plywood and balsa shapes used in the frameworks. The glass fibre rods are tied and glued together using traditional knots. Ply and balsa are laser-cut, screenprinted and assembled in the manner of a model aeroplane. Some works are printed onto 13gsm tissue to gain transparency of image that would not be possible any other way.