In Print 20/20 Vision Spotlight- Corinna Button

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Posted 26th February 2021

In print 20/20 Vision Spotlight - Corinna Button

Corinna Button


People are the subjects of my work, with a focus on women and the blurring and shifting boundaries between the private and public experience. My inspiration is drawn from daily encounters and observations such as social gatherings, images and snippets on social media. All these influences generate ideas for themes that I can build upon, “dress-up" and weave into my work.

I paint directly on my print plates with carborundum grits, I score and gouge out areas then sand back; I apply varnish, enamel paint, textured pastes and collage; it is a prolonged process of concealment and discovery.

Everything about the way I work (both technique and subject) is motivated by the desire to reveal or “bring something to light." Thus my process involves layering then scraping back, building then excavating; otherwise peeling back layers to “carve out" and reveal something hidden beneath the surface.

I always need to start work whether it be a print or a painting  by getting the surface going. Even working back into a print proof is sometimes a good starting point because I need something to be there to experiment with and try out different possibilities

At times monotypes become my 'working drawings ' for an idea - once printed they may end up in the ''bad'' pile or become a successful piece in their own right – and they leave me with their ''ghosts' on the plate, which after printing  give me the starting points to follow and develop on. I work in painting and printmaking and for me they have a close relationship - they cross reference each other and share textural qualities and layering techniques. I like the scraping and carving out process of print-making but I like the scraping back process of painting as well. I sometimes work the surface of the paper first, perhaps by spraying or brushing on a layer of emulsion for a grainy or textural effect and rubbing in ink or washing over paint, then I print over the top. I might even then sand it back and print back over it again and again -

Intention is often seduced into very different results once an image is taking shape. What particularly intrigues me about printmaking are the surprises or happy accidents that can occur along the way - presenting new possibilities. Printing and peeling the paper away from the inky plate is both exciting and nerve racking. It is a moment of great anticipation (and anxiety) of what anomalies may have occurred in the process- it can be a moment of great joy or frustration!

During Lockdown

I have been keeping busy in lockdown. My big solo show was due to open on the very day Lockdown was announced for the first time last year. Thankfully the gallery made a video and both the gallery owner and I kept the interest in the show alive by sharing images etc on social media daily– the most time I have ever spent on social media – it was worth the effort I'm happy to say. I brought materials from my studio, home and the kitchen became my temporary 'studio space'. I made a series of sculptures.

I'm grateful my husband turned a blind eye to the mess I was creating - I layer and build up the surfaces gradually with thin pieces of clay – tooling in marks, excavating and building – pushing and pulling – rather messy --it's the way I work. We didn't eat at that table throughout Lockdown! This is part of a series of works on the theme 'Preparing a face' They are manifestations of a number of different ideas about identity and stereotype. The way people use social media to construct identity and facades are also themes that have been influencing my work.

When lockdown was lifted somewhat, I made the most of being in my 'proper studio' to complete two commissioned paintings. I received the wonderful news that my RA summer show submission was hung and despite the show spending most of the time in lockdown many of my prints sold which, happily, meant I had a big editioning job to complete.

More recently – back in strict lockdown I've been experimenting painting and playing with ideas on my ipad - a whole new clean painting experience! I have to say I'm not normally a clean worker and I get paint everywhere once I'm in my 'zone'. My studio is not for the 'faint hearted'. I have been painting some miniature canvasses in my lockdown studio aka 'kitchen table'  Working on a miniature scale is the ideal solution – I've managed to avoid too much mess -  I really enjoy experimenting on miniature pieces , playing with ideas, materials and planning new approaches (The miniature ones featured here are 9 x 6cm). I have painted many of these and they have become part of my miniature 'Moments of being' series - they're visual expressions of moments; emotions and musings on daily life.

Corinna Button's work is currently featuring in our In Print 20/20 at Watts Contemporary Gallery, check out her work and other featuring artists by visiting the Watts Contemporary Gallery section of our shop.