View a video of the exhibition:
Possible Outcome – A discussion of prints by Laura Peturson
The following information was taken from conversations with the artist.
Within this series of prints that feature a child or children involved in play, Laura Peturson has chosen to depict toys and clothing that have a timeless quality as well as a sense of expectation for female gender roles. Many of the toys in Prodigy, (at left), as with the other prints in this series, have been played with by her own daughter, Jane, who has been a strong inspiration in Peturson’s artwork.
Just as the toys could easily be dropped into different time periods, similarly Peturson’s compositional style could easily be transplanted into 19th century painting. Throughout this series, she has used an interpretation of late 19th century aesthetics, including compositional techniques employed by artists such as Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) and John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). The use of a shallow or flattened spatial plane in several of the works (e.g. Green Teacup – see below) is emphasized by the strong patterning on the walls behind the figures.
Several of the works feature reproductions of neoclassical paintings littering the floor or hung on the walls. In Prodigy, one can find reproductions of works by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867), including Jupiter and Thetis and Napoleon On His Imperial Throne. Peturson explains that these paintings reference a heroic male ideal and present the girls with a differently gendered possibility from their surroundings.
Peturson is interested in themes of romanticism that exist around children and childhood. Her research has included examining benchmark views, expectant roles and life-paths for children described within Treatise On Education (1762) written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Green Teacup is a beautiful print of a young girl feeding her stuffed toy some tea. This print, along with Matryoshka Doll and Role Model, were creating using a reduction printing process called a linocut.
A LINOCUT is created by cutting away a thin layer of linoleum called a lino block. The process is similar to a woodcut, only the surface is much softer to carve. Any parts of the design not to be printed must but carved away. The lino block is inked-up with a small rubber roller and the image is then transferred to the paper using a printing press.
For multi-coloured prints the lino block is reduced in stages. Only those areas of the design that relate to the first colour are cut away. After having printed the first colour, the block is cut away a little more, and re-inked with the next colour. The artist continues cutting, inking, printing over the preceding colours until the image is complete. The cutting must be very precise as the artist can’t “go back” once a cut is made!
In Possible Outcome the carpet pattern has been borrowed from a John Singer Sargent painting entitled The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882) – see below.
In this print, the carpet, sleeping bunnies and girl are all silkscreened, while the wall paper was created through linocut. The flooring and the poster’s tape were created using collograph techniques and the reproduction of Jacques-Louis David’s The Oath of the Horatii (1784) on the wall is a lithograph.
COLLOGRAPH is a modelling technique involving a building up of materials on the plate. Materials such as paper or fabric or tape are glued to the plate and then covered in varnish or medium. This protects the plate during inking and printing. Collographs can be used to create many different effects and texture. Possible Outcome utilized wood veneers and tape on a plate.
SILKSCREEN is a stencil method of printing. A design is imposed on a screen of silk or fine mesh, with the blank areas coated with an impermeable substance. Ink combined with thick liquid base is forced through the mesh onto the paper using a squeegee.
use of minimal pigment in the transparent base creates a washy monotype effect when pushed through the screen.
Possible Outcome is a body of work comprised of prints created using screenprint, linocut, collograph and lithographic processes. Influenced stylistically by fin-de-siècle art and literature, and by the domestic workings of her own family, Laura Peturson’s prints present a vision of childhood based in both reality and fiction. These works capture and examine the expectations and sentiments placed upon very young girls.
Each print depicts a child or children engaged in introspective play, often with objects that are commonly viewed as feminine. In selected prints, the girls have been inserted compositionally into reproductions of 18th-century paintings. A toddler reads in front of a Jacques Louis David reproduction taped to the wall of her nursery. A little girl holds a shadow puppet as she stands amongst Ingres reproductions littered across the floor. These neoclassical paintings reference a heroic male ideal and present the girls with a differently gendered possibility from their surroundings.
In addition to the narrative aspect of the work, the prints deal with formal elements, such as pattern, colour and the tension between illusory space and a flat, silhouetted aesthetic.