Samantha Reilly – Collage and Print Maker
“I have always had an interest in art and media, choosing to study them both throughout my education. Looking back it seems only fitting that my artwork should now reflect both subjects. However after being taught how to construct print based media, I now deconstruct and then rearrange them in a less than perfect way. This current practice has stemmed from a dislike of the glossy magazines of the present day that show the unrealistic, restricting strive towards something attainable. The work is made from magazines, new and old. Selecting certain elements, such as backgrounds, figures, facial features and typography, they are then assembled in the form of a collage. I restrict myself to existing materials; by using an image that has taken a team of people to produce, I, in essence, take on the role of creator and producer. The facial features and elements are mainly from free magazines that are readily available, for example, those usually located at London train stations. The irony being that these magazines are financed largely through advertising, so to use them as the basis of work is satisfying.
My early collage pieces were constructed from present media sources, using whatever magazines that I could source. These magazines aided an exploration of form, colours and genders. However the basis of the prints soon shifted into the use of vintage magazines which are present in my current work. 20th century magazines are not so easily accessible, I have to seek them in charity shops or online for a sometimes costly fee (due to collectors), meaning that cost is restricting in terms of how many magazines I want to pay for, balanced against the risk of unknown content. Therefore the images, typography and advertising that may be sourced is a mystery until the magazines are purchased.
Using these magazines is not only to celebrate the beauty, the ‘vintage’ look and feel of the pieces, but also to take a conscious look at the sexism at play for both men and women, for example women, portrayed in the kitchen or with the children and men doing manual work around the home. I aim predominantly to highlight and then challenge these stereotypes.
The collages have layers to them, the background, the figures (then their facial features) and lastly the typography. Typography is also something which has developed in the work from the vintage magazines. This came after reading through the DIY magazines such as ‘Do it Yourself’ ‘and ‘Home Maker’ and finding them overtly sexist and masculine, a cause for controversy in the current times. The phrases and titles in the articles from the old magazines were so tongue in cheek and almost untouched by the political correctness that we have at play today. They often had a humorous charm (much like a characteristic that I loved and admired from my great grandparents generations). I try keep these elements in the pieces, whilst highlighting the issues at play – a nostalgic look at how our society operates.
Throughout and since my degree I have been fascinated with printmaking, having learned the many forms and styles (including etchings, mono print, solar print, salt and ink, lino cut, embossing silver card, cyanotypes and silk screen printing). In my early prints my primary focus was on how the process worked, using existing images as a basis. It wasn’t until I started to explore screen printing that I saw it as a way to develop and improve the collage work, seeing it as a sort of finalisation and development of the work. It allowed me to keep the details and colours that are integral to the collages and then develop and then enhance them further in terms of colours, scale and composition.
Screen printing means that the image can easily changed, the colours, size (recently taking an A4 collage and printing it on A0 sized paper) and materials (having printed onto a larger than A0 piece of cardboard packaging). This pushes the work further and allows flexibility.
The manufacturing process of the magazines that are sourced for the collages unwittingly share strong ties to screen printing such as speed and mass production. These links were never intended but are immensely satisfying to me. My chosen medium is taking on and mimicking the characteristics of its source material. What started as an enjoyable experiment into a new medium of print is gradually becoming a more complex and intricate process beyond the actual screen printing itself”.