This print is a departure in more ways than one for me: apart from using a new colour for one edition, it is the first print I have published which is part white line and part black line. It has also had the longest gestation of any work I have done—it has taken me approximately twenty years from first inspiration to fruition. I was immediately struck by the subject’s looks and knew I wanted to portray her somehow, but that was long before I made my first engravings. When I started engraving (on wood) I settled into doing figure studies and although I sometimes included a head on my life drawings I never included heads in my prints; I was after something else with my nudes, part of which was anonymity—although people who knew the models could often pick out who they were to my surprise. Over the years I played with different approaches and finally, in 2015, I was ready to make my first cut into the lino. As well as her beauty, the thing I wanted to portray was the interesting ethnic mix of the subject: part Afghan, part Australian Aboriginal, and part Scottish.
I usually mull over different possibilities for titles while I am working on a print. I consider Untitled to be a complete no no—sheer laziness. I think you should look at the image first and only then search for the title to see if it adds anything to your experience of the work, but a title there should be—however difficult it may be to think of one! It has to be said I have been known to delegate this job. Perhaps I should have a competition to name a print one day…? There’s a thought. If ever I get really stuck I may do that. The title for this image was particularly important to me and I’m pleased with how both the image and the naming has turned out. I hope other people will like her too. This print is called Nothing is Black and White.