Background was a collaborative print project undertaken in 2011. Three artists – Diana Orinda Burns, Robyn Gibson and myself – produced a body of printed work entirely in collaboration. The following text is taken from the Background catalogue, and its description of the experience of working collaboratively:

“Before we started I expected the process to be challenging, exacting and exhilarating. In reality at times I felt stripped bare, my private inner artist open, raw and vulnerable. But this was tempered by the belief that a new journey was beginning, a voyage in uncharted waters, and the excitement was immense”.

“I thought that mostly it would be challenging, a kind of surrender. That it would involve a great deal of conscious effort to see the work as not ‘mine’, but ours … I thought that it would be hard to always embrace and work with the aesthetic choices of two others. Because there are always going to be some choices that you wouldn’t have made. You are in complete control when you make your own work, as an individual. The choices are always your own”.

We intended the process to be an exploration: an exploration of layering of ground upon ground, intersections and counterpoints created as we pass paper over for another to print the next layer, and decide together at which point each part of the whole is complete; an exploration of making plates, mixing colour, drawing line, inking up, working out composition in complete collaboration. In doing this, we have each confronted the risk of handing over work, having someone else work over it, taking it back altered, having foreground rendered into background, and back again. Equally, we have (necessarily) explored the ways in which individual ideas of creating line and picture at times intersect and at times work in counterpoint.

Acknowledgment: All ‘work in progress’ studio-based photographs are taken by Rachel Pilgrim of Well Earth Studios. Photographs of finished work, first hanging and exhibition are by Miles Bennett (Ideas Agency).