Harbour Channel, Aberdeen
By Frances Walker

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Year
1997
Media
Printmaking
Subject Matter
Landscape - Urban and Architectural
Reg. Number
P844
Size
80 x 60 cm

Thank you Margaret Cooper for adopting this artwork.


Frances Walker often uses the view from a window as a basis for her work. This cityscape depicts the view from an Aberdonian window by the harbour, revealing a hotch-potch of buildings, adorned by tiny windows and dotted with chimneys. The piece's detailed line work reveals intricate roof slates, metal railings and brickwork. A body of water, punctuated by boat masts, separates these homes from the land on the other side, where ominous clouds hover over faraway buildings. Signs of domesticity, such as the laundry pegged out on a washing line, are a reminder of the people whose lives revolve around these houses. The piece embodies a wide range of grey tones, contrasting with crisp black lines. These shades of grey add further detail to the work, picking out the individual stones of the buildings, and shadowing drain pipes and boat masts. There is a suggestion of a dreary, rainy day, typical of the north of Scotland. The only area of colour in this work, the body of water, has been enhanced with pearlescent blue paint, highlighting it against the rest of the piece. It's prominence is a reminder of the importance of the water, and the harbour, to the lives of the people of Aberdeen.

This piece was created using etching, which involves covering a plate of metal with an acid resistant surface which the artist then scratches into to expose the bare metal where they wish the lines to appear. The plate is then dipped into acid, which bites into the exposed metal, leaving behind sunken lines. The plate is then covered in ink, and placed in a printing press with a sheet of paper to produce the print. The plate can be used as many times as is neededto produce multiple copies of the same work: this piece is number 15 of 40 prints made. The prints can be worked further with hand colouring, as in this piece where the way the artist has highlighted the body of water.

The view from an window is something Frances Walker often uses as a basis for her work. She favours northern cityscapes, where the weather dictates observing the world from indoors. "The framing of a scene in a window reinforces the lines of the actual physical frame on the finished work". She is inspired by the short, dark winter days in Scotland, and by the particular kind of light found in the north. The detail in her work is explained by her attitude to drawing, "For me, drawing has something to do with finding out, about discovering, about understanding, about trying to explain, about distilling the essence and meaning and magic from the source material".

Frances Walker was born in Kirkcaldy in 1930 and trained at the Edinburgh College of Art. She now lives in Aberdeen and on Tiree, where she lives in one of the few remaining thatched cottages. Many of her drawings and studies are made in Tiree, with larger paintings and prints being produced in Aberdeen. Having painted many of the wildest parts of Scotland, Walker's works not only evoke this wildness but also bears witness to the people who have lived in Scotland and shaped the land with their labour.


Acknowledgements:

Leopard Magazine

Studio International