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    Photogravure etchings at https://kamprint.com/ and https://kamprint.com/xpress/

    Photogravure etchings at https://kamprint.com/ and https://kamprint.com/xpress/

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    Photogravure etchings at https://kamprint.com/ & https://kamprint.com/xpress/

    Photogravure etchings at https://kamprint.com/ & https://kamprint.com/xpress/

Titles

Graphic arts can bypass verbal understanding and reach the heart directly. Instead of abandoning words entirely, however, I prefer titles that initiate the viewer into the non-verbal world of the print. Like poetry, they use words to go beyond words. Often the title once arrived at, through inspiration or thought-association, appears obvious, as if pre-destined.

Leaf-whispers started as a search for poetic associations of ‘leaves’. Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Song of Myself contain numerous leaf-references involving communication between himself and vegetation, but none short enough for a print title. Spring festivals feature various characters covered in leaves, and there is the Millais painting of Ophelia

Ophelia

Ophelia

covered in leaves, but these suggest burial or death, not what I had in mind for an image of living leaves. Then there is the role of leaves in divination and prophecy, such as the Sibylline leaves of ancient Greece and Persia. This seemed closer to the mark, as I wanted to suggest some sort of message to be divined from the rustling of the leaves in the wind, some confidence being confided to the listener. I thought of ‘Whispering Leaves’, but this sounded like the name of a down-at-heels B&B. It took me a while to to think of the singular ‘leaf’ and to couple that with ‘whispers’ — that sounds exactly right.

Leaf-whispers

                Leaf-whispers, photogravure etching, Peter Miller

With Mind the Gap, at first, descriptive terms like ‘rocks and trees’, such as are used in Chinese ink-brush painting, occurred to me. One of the Chinese ink-brush paintings I looked at was entitled Rivers and Mountains Without End, and that idea seemed to resonate with the islands disappearing into the mist, and the suggestion of a limitless, though ethereal expanse. But what would ‘islands without end’ mean? Perhaps instead of highlighting the islands themselves, the image is about the spaces around them — the gap. The apparently empty space embodies form and gives shape to what it surrounds. But just ‘the gap’ seemed too abrupt, not to mention redolent of a clothing store. What is the significance of the gap? How are we to think of it? Think of it, consider it, of course! — Mind the Gap. That’s what the conductor tells you when getting on or off the train. It’s also a reminder of the void that awaits us, awareness of which makes the present more vital.

Mind the Gap

              Mind the Gap, photogravure etching, Peter Miller

In May 2002 I held an exhibit in Kamakura where visitors were asked to write haikus. They could be about the show, the season, their momentary feeling — often all three. One of these is:

波音を

抱き寄せて知る

春の夢

nami oto wo / dakiyoseteshiru / haru no yume

In rough translation: the sound of the surf / reminds me of its embrace / a dream of spring.

The author of this haiku, the late Shinpei Ishii, was a writer of great style and sensitivity, and the host of a popular radio program.

In 2003, Charnwood Arts in England arranged for a world-wide group to write haikus in English on the Seascape Furiously Yoursphotogravures. One of these, by Hazel Witherspoon, goes: Your love / in all its fury / storming my senses. Both of these haikus stayed with me, contributing to the titles of my most recent Seascapes, Wave-Embraced and Furiously Yours. The violence of the ocean’s embrace is akin to that of love, and something of that spirit inhabits both prints. As a tag line, Furiously Yours may be more in synch with the perilous intensity of human relations than the standard ‘Sincerely yours’ or ‘Very truly yours’. These prints recall the intimate association of beauty and danger long considered to be the essence of the sublime.

Wave-embrace

      Wave-Embraced, photogravure etching, Peter Miller (2009)

The persistence of autumn grasses in midwinter suggested the co-existence of seasons in time, encompassing an entire cycle of growth, decay, and rebirth in one scene. The pattern also suggested musical staves, and at the same time, a kind of calligraphy: ‘Notes’, as if Nature had hastily scribbled some messages from seasons past. The notion of recollection inherent in these contemporaneous seasons prompted ‘last time’, as in ‘remember the last time we did such and such a thing?’ or ‘remember when this snow-covered field was green with fresh grass?’ Remembrance of the cycle of seasons implies that the sequence will be repeated, that we will have another and yet another opportunity to revisit the scene anew. All of these meanings coalesce in Notes From Last Time.

Notes From Last Time

       Notes From Last Time, photogravure etching, Peter Miller

Printed from: https://kamprint.com/views/titles/ .
© Peter Miller 2020.


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