BLACKWORKS is the first solo show from printmaker Iain McEllin and is a series of large format digital prints of isolated halftone patterns.
The halftone, as a mark, is unique to printmaking. It has been used as a reprographic technique for photography since the 1850s, using lines of dots to create continuous tone imagery, and as an abstract device to create the optical illusion of dimension or movement in moiré patterns. BLACKWORKS reduces this mark to its simplest form as a single pattern and tone.
The title refers to Blackwork prints of ornamental engraving designs that were produced in Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. These prints were characterised by large areas of solid black as opposed to the fine lines normally associated with engravings. In order to achieve this motif, goldsmiths would use deep cut enameling techniques on the printing plates. The process and its inherent qualities determined the finished design and print.
BLACKWORKS consists of fourteen monochrome digital prints, hung vertically as tapestries. The halftone patterns are generated in Photoshop at print size and printed with an Epson inkjet printer on Hahnemühle papers and JetBlack inkjet film. The quality and detail that the Epson outputs produces a dark velvet surface that cannot be photographed accurately and makes it necessary to view these works physically.