Thursday, December 26, 2013

Monoprints, ghost prints and ink jet prints

In the last post I included a photograph of the large (full sheet of Fabriano Rosapina if you're interested) thread prints I've been making.  I ink up a large piece of acetate and lay sewing thread, strand by strand, on the plate.  I have the time taken to get the threads on the plate down to about an hour, sometimes it is boring, other times it is pleasingly meditative.  Then I take the print and a ghost print.

I am currently using the ghost prints as bases for ink jet prints of images from the factory.

Here is a selection of the work to date.

full size print


ghost print
inkjet prints on ghost prints

Amann analogue

I also took my analogue SLR camera into the factory with me.  (I think it is strange that we now have to specify a camera as analogue because the noun 'camera' invariably implies a digital camera).  It is a Canon Eos 300 and feels as light as a feather compared to my SLR digital camera.  It takes wonderful photographs and I love the shutter sound.  In fact I take photographs just to hear the shutter sound.  Another beauty of film is also that you often have a few frames left at the end of film that 'need to be used up' and this encourages a creative recklessness that sometime has good results. 

I develop these photographs in the college and really enjoy this process as well.  The dark room holds no fear for me thanks to  Emily Robards who held my hand through the developing of several films until I knew what I was doing.  And thanks to the hairy drying cabinet most of the negatives get little hairs and specks on them which replicates amazingly well the atmosphere in the factory which was always filled with cotton and polyester fibres flying about the place.  This is called, not unsurprisingly, 'fly'.

These films are 'push processed'.  The ISO is set much higher than the ISO rating of the film itself so the film is deliberately underexposed.  This is then compensated for during the developing of the film.  It helps in the low light levels of the factory and also gives these really evocative, high contrast, grainy results.

These cameras are available on Ebay for ridiculously low prices.  That makes me sad for some reason.

chairs in the meeting room



cctv (still active) in the reception

reception entrance

employee entrance and exit - the most unwelcome and welcome sight

heavy twisting

filament quality lab

spinning quality lab

entrance gate

from core yarn twisting into pre-spinning

no caption required

meeting room

employee car park

left behind

view through reception window   

At the end of one of these films, I took a few photographs of the plate I've been using to make some large thread prints and one of the prints themselves

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Anatomy of a factory closure as told by RTE

Amann Industries - Consulting with employees
Friday, 16th January 2009
120 jobs to go at Tralee firm
120 jobs are to go at Amann Industries Corporation in Tralee, Co Kerry.
The thread manufacturer has announced that management will enter into immediate consultation with employee representatives to reduce the workforce from 340 to 220 over the year.
The workforce, based at the Clash Industrial Estate, was informed of the decision this afternoon.
Wednesday, 22nd April 2009
Concern for jobs at Amann Industries
SIPTU has said it is concerned for the future of the textile manufacturing plant Amann Industries in Tralee in Co Kerry.
A general meeting of the workforce of approximately 300 people has been called for Friday.
The company is already processing 120 redundancies announced in January.
Management and unions agreed a redundancy package at the Labour Relations Commission, which was accepted by the workers and those redundancies are being implemented on a staggered basis.
However, there are fears for the remaining 220 jobs with management from Amann's parent company in Germany due to fly into Kerry for the meeting.
Amann Industries is one of Kerry's biggest manufacturing employers and is a critical part of the manufacturing base in Tralee.
SIPTU says it has no details about the agenda for that meeting, but said it is concerned for the future of the plant.
Fine Gael TD for Kerry North Jimmy Deenihan said the closure of Amann Industries would devastate Tralee and the surrounding area.
He called on Tánaiste Mary Coughlan and the IDA to make contact with the company to see what could be done to save the jobs.
Friday, 24th April 2009
210 jobs cut at Kerry textile firm
210 workers at the Amann textile company in Tralee, Co Kerry, are to lose their jobs.
Workers at the plant were called to a meeting with management today, where senior executives from the firm's parent company in Germany addressed employees.
In a brief statement issued after briefing staff this lunchtime, the company said the shutdown would be phased, with the spinning operation ceasing production by mid-July this year.
The twisting operation will transfer to China over the following 12 months.
The company said the need to remain competitive in a very difficult, cost-sensitive market, combined with high labour and energy costs led to its decision.
The German-owned company has been in Tralee since 1998 when it took over the former Klopman textile factory and, with the aid of the Government, invested IR£26m upgrading the operation here.
In January, the company cited high energy and labour costs in Ireland when it cut 120 jobs.
It moved certain production processes to Romania and Germany.
The company produced specialised threads for the automotive, fashion and sports industries.
Fine Gael TD for Kerry North Jimmy Deenihan said: 'This is terrible news for the people of Tralee and the surrounding area and there will be very grave economic consequences for other businesses in the town.'

New Work

For my work this semester I am going back almost 5 years in time to when I was employed at Amann Industries in Tralee, Co. Kerry.

It was a dream come true to be able to work in Tralee after 12 years working in textile factory on the outskirts of Bury, near Manchester.  An old-fashioned textile factory that produced sewing threads on old machines, truly a dark satanic mill really, with windows that were white-washed to keep out the sunshine and uneven wooden floors so impregnated with machine oil that the whole place would have gone up in a flash if ever there was a fire there.  What made this job bearable was the people - really good, down-to-earth, Northern mill -workers who worked hard under some of the most horrible conditions you could imagine. 

This is an internet image of the factory called Peel Mills.  I never took any photos of the factory which I now regret as this once listed building now looks like this. 


Peel Mills closed in 2002 and I was transferred permanently to Tralee.  In the factory in Tralee, there were no windows at all and the floor bore the marks of other machines that had been at this site before, when it manufactured denim.  The other workers in Tralee were incomprehensible to me at first - they seemed to speak so quickly and combined with the noise levels in the factory, if I didn't get what they were saying in the first 3 words I just had to smile and nod.  It got easier and the massive advantage of this factory was that it was 20 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and for the first 6 months I lived in a hotel and didn't have to wash up once.

In 2010 the factory closed for good and I got the chance to go to art college.  This made me very amibivalent towards the closure.  Although hundreds of people lost their jobs it wasn't a disaster for me or for lots of others.  The work was physical and tiring.  Shifts were 12 hours long in high temperatures with noise levels sometimes in excess of 90 decibels.  We spent thousands of hours wearing ear defenders and shouting or using sign language to each other.  This is the reality of spinning mills, they need high temperatures and high humidity to spin the thread and the machines are very noisy.  I miss the people though; in a town like Tralee if you work with 300+ others you know most of the town in one way or another.  You can salute half the town on a Saturday afternoon in the main street. 

I don't miss the money, the routine or the conditions.  Yet I still have a fondness for both places.  For anyone born in the industrial north-west of England before 1975 or so, textiles are in the blood.  My dad worked in dye-houses all his life.  My sister started in textiles before escaping and textile manufacturing is all I know.  Well that and a bit of printing now ...

20:20 box set edition

I handed in my 25 prints to Limerick Printmakers for the Hot Bed Press 20:20 box set last week.  This is a box set which encompasses dozens of printmakers throughout the UK and Ireland and in return for your 25 prints you get a selection of 20 prints which could come from any other print studio taking part.  I took part in this last year and got some wonderful prints and apart from these goodies it is also a great way of seeing what other printmakers are doing.  If I was really organised and a decent blogger I would have bothered my backside putting some examples up I suppose but all the prints are available here

I decided to do a drypoint on acetate of my other half who is very camera shy and hates being drawn - possibly because I always make him look like a tramp or a drunkard.  I always have to wait until we are travelling to try and draw him as then he can't get away.  The train to Dublin is a favourite for this and that's where this image was drawn.  I then just traced over it on the acetate and added my own embellishments.  This time however he looks slightly threatening.  He also looks to be gritting his teeth as well.  I added some tears cut from thick paper to give a nice emboss and printed it all in wonderful raw umber which gives a lovely old-fashioned sepia look.  I never wipe my plates back with paper and love the heavily inked look of this print, except for the face where I wiped back more of the ink.  On some prints I added a roll up of green or blue or grey, on others I added colour to the eyes or the speech bubble using Indian ink.  And of course to denote how precious my other half is I added some gold which seems to be a favourite of mine at the moment for prints.

I was really pleased with the way this plate lasted.  I got over 30 prints from it and the last one was a clear as the first.  I covered the paper tears with 2 coats of French polish and they didn't flatten or tear away at all.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Indian Summer's Day in Dublin - Tony O'Malley and others

Tony O'Malley is one of my favourite artists and this year is the centenary of his birth in Callan, Co. Kilkenny.  Several exhibitions featuring his paintings, prints and constructions were held in Dublin and these are some of the works featured:-

Whilst I was in Dublin, and seeking to make the most of my 21 Euro student day return, I also visited the Douglas Hyde Gallery and saw curious sculptures by Francis Upritchard, a New Zealand artist.  She creates strangely costumed, half life-size figures with elongated limbs and fingers and mean faces.  Up close I imagined them coming to life and springing upon the visitors, throttling them with those bony fingers ...
There were also wonderful Emas, Japanese votive plaques.  These are placed at shrines asking for favours from the Gods and very touching, human objects in the wabi-sabi aesthetic.



Lastly in the upstairs gallery at the RHA were these glorious drawings in ballpoint pen by Marlene McCarthy.  They were phenomenal notwithstanding their disturbing subject matter:-