Alberta Whittle and Editions at DCA

DCA regularly works directly with the artists exhibiting in their galleries to develop limited edition artworks for sale. This gives people the opportunity to acquire affordable artwork by critically acclaimed contemporary artists while supporting DCA’s future programme. Having a generously equipped Print Studio at the heart of the building means that editions can be created in-house, enabling artists to move between processes as the project evolves in DCA galleries and to work alongside the experienced Print Studio team in a deeply participatory manner, actively engaged in the process. Recently artist Alberta Whittle worked alongside the Print Studio team, creating a new suite of editions that also form part of her exhibition, How Flexible Can We Make the Mouth, currently in DCA galleries.

Using an array of time-based processes, Whittle overlays interconnecting narratives to create a story in print: the central imagery, drawn from a series of engravings by Theodore de Bry, is created with laser-cut woodblocks, inverted so that it creates deliberately hard-to-read areas in depictions of Columbus’s first arrival and subsequent violent suppression of indigenous peoples. The final prints are embossed with a shimmering gold snail trail – a hard, fleshly form, impressed upon the bodies of the invaders within scene. This speaks to the invasive, giant African snails in Whittle’s hometown; she chose to incorporate the saline traces left by snails as they travelled. Superimposed on to the scenes these trails recall the concepts of ‘slippage’ and transcience in Whittle’s wider work, alongside the more literal wetness and saltiness of the sea, migration and voyaging sailors. The gold ink reminds us of the ever present role of trade, wealth and power in such histories.