The Medium is the Message

'Dapple', screenprint, Poem by Edwin Morgan (1968), printed by John Taylor at Glasgow Print Studio (1978). (c) The Edwin Morgan Trust (SCIO)

Dapple, by Edwin Morgan (1920 – 2010), the late Scottish poet who became involved in the concrete poetry movement of the 1960s, is one of five poems titled Colour Poems that play with the relationship between meaning, rhythm, colour and sound. The Colour Poems were the inspiration for the development of The Medium is the Message: words in printmaking since the 1960s, an exhibition exploring how artists have used words in printmaking. Running till 9 September 2012 at the Glasgow Print Studio and coinciding with its 40th anniversary, the prints are drawn largely from its archive and features works by artists and writers, many of whom are based in Scotland, including Helen de Main, Alasdair Gray, Scott Myles, and Bruce McLean.

Kevin Hutcheson, 'Architectural Review', 2012, screenprint in an edition of 30, commissioned specially for The Medium is The Message: words in printmaking since the 1960s, copyright the artist and Glasgow Print Studio

Specially commissioned for this exhibition, Kevin Hutcheson’s (b. 1971) Architectural Review uses cut-outs and arrangements from headlines of printed media with the words “NEW TOWN” and “blues” to create a collage, where the slight tilt of the cut-outs that appear as housing blocks express an atmosphere of dolefulness, like the tunes of blues. The work seems to respond to the optimism of urban development conveyed by the mass media, with a personal encounter communicated through the ability of language to possess a kind of feeling-tone.

Martin Boyce, Disappear Here, 1999, screenprint in an edition of 50 plus 1 artist's proofs, 75 x 52 cms, 29.55 x 20.49 inches. Published by Glasgow Print Studio. Copyright the artist and Glasgow Print Studio

The felt experience of an urban life seems to also emerge in Martin Boyce’s (b. 1967) Disappear Here. Produced also as a wall painting in 1999, the work’s grid structure reminds one of a phenomenological encounter in a city, where one can navigate around with the assurance of an order that gradually encloses and contains before eventually disappearing within.

Louise Hopkins, Untitled, 2004, digital print in an edition of 60, 95.3 x 80 cm, 37 1/2 x 31 1/2 in. Published by Glasgow Print Studio. Copyright the artist and Glasgow Print Studio

From advertisements in magazines, curtain fabric and in this case, comic strips, Louise Hopkins (b. 1965) transforms these found material often by obscuring, painting, and altering aspects of the images. Many of the works in the exhibition use words in a manner that resuscitates hidden meanings or layers on alternative interpretations of language. In contrast, Hopkins’ work erases words, calling attention to a narrative structure and visual context that though emptied of its function, offers a new consideration of how an artist’s hand disrupts and transforms familiar sources of information and imagery.