Artist and researcher Charlotte Cullen
creates environments grounded in the land, working through sculpture, installation, mark making and text. Site is enacted as geological space for excavation, symbiotic (un)learning, resistance and healing wherein intergenerational trauma, socially working-class positions, sickness and the body are manifest as material, physical encounters.
Cullen’s research repositions artist-led practices through embodied and aspirational
material politics. They have exhibited nationally and internationally, recently in
Shanghai, China and upcoming in Mombasa, Kenya. They are Researcher in Residence at Assembly House and were selected for
Sunny Bank Mills ‘Ones to Watch’ and Short Supply’s ‘Queer Contemporaries’ in 2021.
Cullen came to Lutra skilled and experienced in metalwork, interested in exploring
traditional metal etching methods to create
printing plates, from which a series of editions could be developed.
Alongside the development of sculptural and drawing works made for a project looking at the pre-christian, Irish icon Brig/St Bridget, Cullen was keen to bring together the materials they were already using, including steel and bitumen, with mark marking, action drawing and research references.
Following an initial meeting to discuss and plan, Cullen received instruction in processing steel etching plates and working into them, then printing from the plates once etched. Cullen developed two series’ of etchings using small sheet steel plates.
Three, that used a combination of hard and soft ground, were manipulated and worked into with drawings, words and a range of marks using found, natural items such as leaves.
A further three steel plate works were created experimentally. Plates were prepped in a normal way, but instead of using traditional drawing tools, Cullen ‘walked’ them over rough terrain, so that the surface was scratched organically and randomly, both recording and mapping a journey and a place and creating unique and beautiful prints.
As well as developing these smaller plates, we experimented with inking up and printing larger metal pieces Cullen had created
Unique to this project is it’s starting point of honing age old, orthodox skills with traditional materials and tools, to produce very experimental prints.
Additionally unique were Cullen’s intention to use the printing plates themselves, sculpturally within the installation planned for this body of work. It is not common to see traditional etching applied experimentally, making this a very exciting project for Lutra.
Cullen’s work came together in the exhibition Study for a Shield after Battle at Patriothall with Wasps Studios in Edinburgh in August 2021.