Here we reach the fourth and final part of Maria Walker’s captivating series on mark-making.

“Mark making is the broad term used to include all marks that are made visible as a manifestation of applied or gestural energy”.

The Tate

Over the past three blogs we have explored marks made through writing, using tools found in your home and in the natural world. In this final blog we will expand the definition of mark-making to look at a variety of other art disciplines and techniques where mark-making definitely has a role to play.  The featured artists in this final blog are using marking-making in three-dimensional art, photography, ecoprinting, printmaking, stitch and as a way recording bodily movements.

There is nothing more gestural than using your body to make marks.
Joan Glasgow has used charcoal to record the movements of her body during a performed extract and interpretation of the Taiji Quan choreographed movements/steps or ‘short form’. She is documenting her movements as a way of  exploring her mindfulness, which form the basis of her new work for Phoenix’s  ‘SeenUnseen’e xhibition which will take place in October 2021.

Mary Crabb is an artist maker whose practice is essentially three-dimensional and is well known for her contemporary basketry. Mark-making isn’t a term that automatically springs to mind when thinking about her practice, but marks can also be three dimensional.

“I am experimenting with the marks made by a thread on a warp, by making a sample in hemp thread on a cotton warp. The basketmaker in me of course wanted to twine, reverse twine and then counter twine. Then I started wrapping warps. Such possibilities to transfer some tapestry weaving techniques to the surface of a twined basket! “

Alison Hird also makes three-dimensional art, and creates her woven sculptures using sticks and thread. She then uses her sculptures to experiment with light and photography to capture the marks (shadows) made by her sculptures and move her work into an extra dimension.

“Here are some of my experiments with sunlight coming through a window into a dark room and casting long shadows of a threaded structure. I have then used functions on my camera phone to sharpen and enhance the image and even make some of it melt away so it appears more like pencil or pastel marks.”

Printmaking and ecoprinting are also forms of mark-making although the marks are transferred onto the surface using secondary processes.

Rosaline Darby incises marks into her lino-block and adds shapes and texture to her collograph plates with the intention of transferring her design onto paper and fabric using a printing press. Here she experiments with the range of possible marks using various lino-carving tools. Marks have been made in mount board and in PVA glue to produce this collograph plate and the additional stitch marks have been added to the resulting print.

Jude Kingshott is well known for her ecoprinting and she is the first to admit that she’s addicted to it. Jude transfers beautiful prints from leaves onto paper and cloth using the ecoprinting process, alchemy and a bit of magic. Here are prints from some of her favourite leaves: Tree of Heaven, Liquid Amber and Smoke Bush.

Joan Glasgow combines sketches and computer imaging from photographs, which have been printed on organza and overlaid with a block print to create a layered and complex set of marks in the following two images.

As ‘textile- inspired’ artists one of the main ways we make marks is by using stitch into cloth or paper and of course stitches can be made by hand or the sewing machine, with thread or without.  The following artists demonstrate how they use stitch to create marks on fabric.

Joan Bingley uses handstitching to create bold marks on embroidery canvas.

For Maggie Barber mark-making is fundamental to her work as a textile artist and she has always been intrigued by fine detail which invites the viewer to look closely at the marks she makes. Maggie is influenced by calligraphy, text, alphabets, modern and ancient scripts, and she searches for words and phrases that she can repeat over and over, writing in all directions, sometimes layering the text using different tools giving depth to the work.
“Drawing (or in my case, doodling); experimenting with dyes; printing, discharging colour, layering imagery or making marks with stitch all add to the complexity of my mark making.”

Linda Walsh has been experimenting with making controlled marks using an unthreaded sewing machine.

Maria Walker has used free machine embroidery onto a wadding fabric to try to reproduce some of the marks she created in her drawing of an old map using gesso and pen and ink. The decision to use a ‘difficult’ base fabric to sew on was deliberate in order to try to produce ‘messy’ and irregular stitching to reflect her original drawing which was done using gesso, ink and a feather quill.

We hope you have enjoyed this look at the joys of mark-making and that we might have inspired you to have a go yourself, because the motto of mark-making is “anything goes”.

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