Cotoneaster, 126/200 (unframed)
Extraordinary hand-pulled intaglio print. Scroll to the bottom of this page for extensive detail on the creation of this print.
- Year: 2001
- Medium: Hardground etching, aquatint
- Edition Size: 200 (very limited availability)
- Image Size: 18" x 16"
- Paper Size: 22.5" x 26"
- Printing element: 9 colors, a la poupée, on 6 copper plates. (Two reds, created through separate plates.)
Cotoneaster is immediately recognizable as the work of David Smith-Harrison. The combination of a finely rendered tree, detailed architectural elements and atmospheric marks has been a hallmark of Smith-Harrison's work for the last quarter century. In this case, the tree is a single cotoneaster in full berry, pollarded and pleached back on to itself to form a symmetrical dome on a slender trunk. See below for more detail on this beautiful artwork.
Having the cotoneaster in mind, Smith-Harrison turned to this archive of architectural photographs. He chose a niche that he had photographed at la Mezquita, the great Mosque, in Cordova. The Christian imagery indicates the Mosque's position as the spiritual center of the struggle that shifted Spain from Islamic al-Andalus to Catholic Hispania.
Although the elements in this print are more concretely rendered than in his earlier works, they are not realistic. Smith-Harrison's use of light unsettles any attempt to view this work as such. As in a dreamscape, there are many sources of light. Although they are at odds with conventional logic of illumination, they impart an internal aesthetic logic. The leaves and berries of the cotoneaster almost appear to glow from within, capturing "the sense of radiant life" that Smith-Harrison wanted to translate from copper, onto paper, and back to the viewer. Corners and edges of the niche are caught out in brightness, moving the eye in a halo around the tree.
It took Smith-Harrison two years to complete the plates for Cotoneaster. Having been a master printer and plate-maker for many years, Smith-Harrison continues to push the potential of the medium. Of particular interest is the technique Smith-Harrison used to achieve the vibration and intensity of color in the cotoneaster berries. He applied "two hits" of ink to the berries, which were two different variations of red.