Megablah

Megablah is a members project being run by Megalo Print Studio in Canberra. Inspired by Noel Counihan’s The Broadsheet publications, produced in the 1960’s featuring relief prints by Counihan and others.  Everyone using the studio’s at Megalo is being encouraged to make a megablah – or even just submit and image and they will make it for you!  So of course, over the last few weeks, a megablah has been one of the things I’ve been working on.

With Counihan’s work being the loose inspiration, I wanted to make something with a more obvious political content.  So it was, that I decided to make use of the copy of the San Francisco Chronicle I had kept from last year, along with some of the leaflets I picked up at various Occupy Encampments.  I left California in late October 2011, when the Occupy Camps were still in full swing on the streets, and it was very much an issue in the media.

I decided to pretty much make a straightforward re-creation of a selection of my source material, and let it speak for itself, but with a few twists.  So this led me down the wondrous path of CMYK screenprinting – something that has long fascinated me but which I hadn’t actually done before.  CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – known as the process colours and used along with colour separations and halftones to print full colour images, like those found in newspapers and magazines.  When you see the separations, it can hardly seem possible that they will combine to produce the colours you want, but magically they do.  Well almost.  Printing this stuff by hand, not to mention variations in the amounts of pigment and paste, always leads to minor variations and inconsistencies.  With a lot of patience and careful testing they can be ironed out, but this was meant to be a quick fun project, so caution was thrown to the wind and I just printed them straight up.  Time for some pics-

First colour down, Cyan.  Megalo had already printed up the border for me, I just had to insert my image.

Second colour down, so with Cyan + Magenta it’s looking pretty purple.

The yellow screen, clamped in the table and ready to print.

So now with Cyan, Magenta and Yellow all printed, it’s looking pretty good (though it did end up a bit over yellow in some spots).  The final black will really make it zing, even though in this case there was a lot less on the black screen than I would have thought.

And There we are.  I just love the way the shadows under that top part of the image really make that bit of paper seem to sitting above the rest.

The final stage to complete the image was to cut out and paste in the wood engraving I had made previously to replace the main photo of some pretty heavy looking police action to clear the Oaklands Occupy Camp.

Quite pleased with the final result.  On one level it’s simply a recreation of my memorabilia, documenting a particular episode in history.  On another level, the two types of print used refer to newspaper imaging old and new, with wood engraving being the original means of producing illustrated newspapers, and of course CMYK and halftone is the current technology.

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