Amber Moir: Along the Line
For her second solo show with Salon91, Amber Moir continues her exploration of the limits and possibilities of watercolour monotype printmaking. In Along the Line, a process-orientated show, Moir traverses the parameters and intentionally wanders outside the margins.
The title of the exhibition refers to the interplay between adhering to and deviating from self-imposed rules and printmaking conventions. Following an often intuitive, experimental and fluid process, in this body of work Moir explores within, around and beyond orthodox ways of printing. Each artwork is a response, firstly to the “line” – restrictions of the process – and secondly to the other pieces in the collection of works. It is this moving beyond and within the “line” that binds the works into a cohesive whole and connects the conventional and experimental monotype prints. “For this show I became interested in seeing works as selected visual elements ‘pulled out’, breaking the confines of the printing plate and then reconstructing a ‘whole’ using multiple prints in space,” Moir explains.
The large landscape piece To the Reach is the anchor point of the show, drawing the line from which the other works respond. The swathes of colour and loose brush marks resemble an aerial view of a landscape. While neatly contained within the demarcated frame of the border, the boundaries of this landscape drift away; the edges slide off the pane. Each of the other works is a fragment of this piece, an alternate view honing in or zooming out to explore different parts of the whole. The colour palette of each work is likewise derived from deconstructed swatches of the motley and muted shades in To the Reach. By presenting the works suspended in an installation, Moir reassembles these sectional views into a fragmented whole, but one which shifts and moves, where negative space becomes an active delineator, and plurality of perspectives unites the sum parts into the whole.
Contradictions are incorporated into the logic of Along the Line: rules are outlined and then broken, quiet works demand space, and the delicate, seemingly ephemeral works are the product of an intensely physical and laborious process – printed outdoors with a pitch-roller. Moir began experimenting with this through a desire to challenge her sense of control and force herself to surrender to the process. Printing with a pitch-roller requires the whole body to work the print. Unlike the controlled environment of the studio press, this method of printing is imprecise, unpredictable, leaving traces of the process in folds, creases, tears in the fabric. But this malleability and materiality is precisely what interests Moir. The fabric used is similarly chosen for its textural integrity: “I like the durability, rawness and practical connotations of the calico as substrate; it is straight from the loom and unbleached, so it has a warmth and grit to it that I like,” Moir explains.
Monotypes are unique in printmaking in that a plate yields a single transfer. In this sense the process can be understood as a hybrid between painting and printing. Watercolour pigments are painted onto a sheet of polypropylene plastic coated with gum arabic, before being passed through a press or rolled with the pitch-roller to transfer a mirror image of the plate onto the substrate. By working in watercolour, which is delicate by nature, Moir is mindful of the inevitable loss of mark and pigment in the process of transferring the image from plate to fabric. The print becomes like a ghost of the plate, imbued with its presence, a trace of the line.
In Along the Line, Moir’s most ambitious body of work to date, process and concept become inextricably combined and impressed into one another. Each work is at once both a fragment of the larger visual narrative of the collection, and a unique experiment traversing the parameters of printmaking.
Text by: Layla Leiman