The Exchange is number ten in the fourteen print Sir Gawain and the Green Knight series I’m making in association with Daniel Bugg of the Penfold Press, and marks the episode from the poem in which on three occasions the Lord of Fair Castle returns from hunting to claim a kiss from his guest. I’ve always found this point in the story to be exciting, though wasn’t at all sure how to set about representing its transgressive nature. (Gawain has to parry the romantic advances of his host’s wife in her husband’s absences, and is made to surrender kisses to the Lord whenever he returns home. It’s as though the young knight is a shuttlecock being batted between the couple.) In the end I made the decision to create an extraordinary encounter, with Bertilak swooping from above to better create the sense of a dizzying erotic charge. I’m currently four stencils into this nine stencil print. Here’s a record of the work so far.
Above and below: preliminary sketches.
Below: details of the ‘master’ drawing used to guide my work on the print.
Below: creating the first stencil.
Below: the dead stag from the first of the three hunts.
Below: the granular texture of the TruGrain on which the stencils are made is apparent in this detail of the kiss.
I use a limited palette of red, grey and black to make the stencils, favouring a combination of opaque fibretip pen, greasy lithography crayon, oil-rich black pencil and acrylic paint.
Below: the colours planned for the print are dull blue, red oxide, dull sand, black, cyan, purple and orange.
Below: beginning to render the embroidered details of Bertilak’s jerkin.