Stephen Vaughan printmaker and artist

Stephen Vaughan inspecting prints and printing plates

Photography: Dylan Vaughan

As an Irish printmaker and artist, native to Thomastown (Co. Kilkenny) I am influenced by a rich culture of arts, crafts music and design; all of this underpinned by the stunning natural heritage of the landscape and of course, being Ireland, a wealth of history. Looking further afield the influences of the modern world are not far away, and so these also play an important role in my work.

My etching and carborundum prints examine the varied landscapes and environments both internal and external that mankind inhabits. Anecdote plays a significant role in my work. The whole gamut of human kinds adventures, trials and tribulations, successes and failures, are explored.

Elements within some compositions reference architectural forms, representing the structures that man has devised for a functional society and civilisation. Visualised is the way in which mankind has imposed itself on the natural world. Compositional elements that are organic or apparently chaotic portray an oppositional viewpoint; nature as adversary to human enterprise. It is in the tension between these two forces that I place my mark.

Making a print

Making a fine art print, from plate preparation to the printing of editions, can take several weeks. As a printmaker and artist, patience and dexterity are fundamentally central to what I do. There is a history of printmaking styles and rules that play a strong role in how the artist is influenced. It is important therefore that the artist/printmaker is fluent in the printmaking techniques, knowing what is appropriate for the image they wish to create; always ready to introduce something new so that they can make the medium their own.

Stephen Vaughan making a print on a Polymetaal etching press

There is a uniqueness to Irish printmaking. This stems from being at a remove from the main centres where printmaking is traditionally practised. This remoteness and dependence on ones own self-developed skills leads to improvisations during the making of etchings or carborundum prints.

The use of materials such as carborundum and adhesives introduce an additive process. Some would say that it is sculptural. This is also appropriate when considering the corrosive action of acid or the cutting actions of an engraving tool: the result is an item in three dimensions albeit one in low relief.

There is always an exciting point in the process of printmaking where there is a transformation; a transformation that is not discovered until the image is printed. At this point you forget all the process and appreciate the printed work as an entity in its own right;  something that is independent of its making.

Illegitimi non carborundum

Stephen Vaughan