Merlin James – Piers and Other Structures

Merlin James

Piers and Other Structures

15 January – 5 February at 20 Albert Road, Glasgow G42 8DN
Exhibition open Saturdays and Sundays, 12-4pm, and by appointment.

The exhibition marks the publication of a special edition of fifteen boxed sets containing nine etchings by Merlin James and a poem by Oliver Reynolds.

Launch event and poetry reading – Saturday 14 January, 4-6pm.

Pier (Ochre), 2003
Acrylic on canvas, 37.5 x 29 cm

Around 2004 I was invited to make an edition to benefit the Whitechapel Gallery, where I was in a show called The Edge of the Real. I chose to make an etching, having not made any for more that a decade. I think it was the Whitechapel that chose Thumbprint Editions, in Camberwell, to make it. But I knew Pete Kosowicz a bit already. He had been part of Hope Sufferance Press, doing editions with Prunella Clough and Victor Pasmore and lots of people.

I did the Whitechapel print, a soft-ground etching depicting a kind of pier pavilion building, with festoon lights or bunting. Pete suggested I did more, and made up a bunch of plates, and put soft grounds on them. I did a few days at Thumbprint over a period, drawing through paper to lift the grounds, and working direct on the plate also, breaking through the ground in various ways, with stiff bristle brushes and things.

The images were non-domestic structures – piers, a bridge, a water tank, a sort of gangway, a signal box – all recurrent imagery from my paintings. I did them unpremeditatedly, not deciding on the motif until the moment I started on the plate. Each went into the acid one time — a single bite— and the duration was just instinct. I did about a dozen prints, and they all worked. I don’t remember any rejects.

We proofed them, then the studio printed editions of 40. Quite a lot depended on exactly how I had wiped the ink off, sometimes differently in different areas. So there was almost a monoprint aspect.

Merlin James. December 2022.

Read the full text here

Bridge, editioned in 2007
Soft-ground etching on 350gsm Somerset soft white paper
Edition of 40
Image size: 110 x 120 mm. Paper size 375 x 445 mm