Portolan – 2014

Skills: Inkjet Transfer, Project


At the start of this year I made a resolution to produce one new artwork for each day of the year, and much to my surprise I’ve actually kept it. I’ve been posting a work a day on Tumblr that you can check out at http://mazdixon.tumblr.com/ I’ve called it Portolan after the little charts that early European navigators made on the run, to be pieced together back on land by mapmakers. The works are all based on photos that I took while on the road for three and a half months last year.

For most of this trip we were in Italy, where I was unexpectedly drawn to the many variations of fresco art, from Pompeii and Herculaneum to later examples at places like the Camposanto in Pisa.

The frescoes appealed to me on a number of levels. I loved the aesthetics, both from the original compositions and the effect that time had on the textures and colours of the works. An extreme example of this was at a church in Bologna, where the frescoes on the outside walls looked extremely battered.

I don’t know the story of the saint in these works but it seems to follow a similar pattern to many saint/superhero origin stories; a life of privilege abandoned after receiving a supernatural call to arms; working to alleviate suffering, performance of miracles, triumph over forces of evil either worldly or otherworldly. I particularly liked these Bologna paintings because apart from their ruinous aesthetics, they still presented a readable narrative of sorts. They formed the basis of a number of studies I did during a studio residency at La Macina di San Cresci in Chianti.

I wanted to keep producing artworks based on these travels, employing the aesthetics of these frescoes. Inkjet transfers are proving to be perfect for this. The image is largely intact by the end of the process, but rough and often with chunks missing depending on how careful I feel like being. The contrast between the scuffed image and areas of applied colour (either pastel or gouache) is striking. These works are quick and dirty, but I’m so happy with the results that I’m incorporating the techniques into my main body of work, as well as planning a video work using transfer images for a stop-motion animation.