I Swallowed a Red Cuillin – John McNaught

Things are progressing on print number one for Throw Up 20.18. This is based around a photograph of the 1898 team, winners of Skye’s first major trophy, the MacTavish Cup.

This week, while printing the image from a prepared photogravure plate, I thought it might be an idea to record the progress in a small video. It would also be the first chance to use the Studio’s new GoPro camera. With the camera clipped to the top of my apron, everything seemed good until looking over the footage on the iPad. The realisation that the strange lump in the lower half of the frame was my belly came as a bit of a shock. Since turning 50, I have decided to commit more time to keeping Scotland at the top of the European heart attack league, and a wee bit of growth around the waist has resulted. My daughter takes a lot of pleasure from asking me what my baby will be called.


But the GoPro with its superwide lens has made it look like Mount Fuji – it would be easy to imagine a bullet train running across the foreground at the bottom of the screen. However, in keeping with this blog, I think it probably looks more like Beinn na Caillich above Broadford.

So far, I have not seen strapping a GoPro on your chest mentioned as a slimming aid, but it clearly could be very effective.


Anyway, the printed gravures are now being hand tinted. This is a technique which applies colour to monochrome photographs or prints. The earliest examples were by Johann Baptist Isenring,  a Swiss printmaker, who applied colour pigments and gum arabic to daguerreotypes in 1839. It was then used extensively as a way of introducing colour to photographs up until the 1940s. I have been using watercolour paints on the oil-based ink of the gravure – it may be the first time the 1898 team has appeared in colour.


The next stage of the process is to print the names of the team as a transparent glaze across the image. The names have been created as a linocut, but instead of printing it directly on to the gravure, I have decided to use screen print. To do this, the lino block has been printed on to drafting film, creating a positive transparency which will now be photo-exposed on to a screen.

It is all quite hard, physical work – so maybe when I use the GoPro again, Beinn na Caillich will look more like the island of Palbay. Maybe.



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