Jane Daniell – Aquatint Etching “Once upon a Time” – (detail)
I popped into Southbank Printmakers Gallery – an artist-run cooperative at Gabriel’s Wharf – just before Christmas with a friend who collect prints. (We were on our way to Tate Modern but the Southbank has so much to offer that we took our time and meandered for a while). While he was looking around, I noticed a card by Jane Daniell and asked if they had the print in the gallery. They didn’t – but they did have this one by the same artist. I liked it so I bought it and that’s the wonderful thing about prints. They are generally very affordable – but still unique – or at least one of a limited edition and numbered to that effect.
It was one of those images that took me back to childhood and storybooks: a field in summer with wild flowers growing among the long grass; two very different little girls – one a slightly wild and less substantial ‘urchin’ with dark hair and one ‘perfect princess’ blond; two birds – a magpie in a stolen nest (worn as a crown – or trophy?) and a smaller bird, complaining bitterly – presumably at the injustice of it all. And, finally, a hairbrush – woven through with ‘golden threads’ – ready for the magpie to add the finishing touches to its new home. So – if I read this correctly – here, cleverly woven into one gentle and bucolic scene with slightly sinister undertones, are all the elements of a good old-fashioned fairy story. Hence the title of the work ‘Once upon a Time’.
As a lover of fables and illustrated tales, in possession of a vivid imagination and a personal tendency to borrow ‘elements’ from diverse sources and reunite them into a new ‘whole’- which I hope is equal to or greater than the sum of its parts – I also often tip my hat to the past and acknowledge its influence on my work. So, I suppose it is really no wonder that I found this aquatint etching so appealing. And, having looked at Jane’s website and the other images posted there, I think I may well be paying Southbank Printermakers another visit in the near future. (See www.janedaniell.info for more about the artist).