This theme has been in my mind for a while.
I have never been a great fan of going on funfair rides. I liked carousels. I remember rather liking the dodgems and aeroplanes, but not the waltzers. I once or twice went on a little big dipper when I was young (and by myself because nobody else in the family wanted to try it) and didn’t like the sensation. I wanted to try the shooting targets stall but never have. The sounds and visual aspects of fairs have always fascinated me, and much less so by the smells of hot dogs, onions and burgers mixed with candyfloss, cigarette smoke – and less pleasant things.
I last went to a funfair with friends when I was an undergraduate. It was one of the largest travelling fairs in Europe: the Hoppings on Town Moor, Newcastle upon Tyne. There was an edginess about being at such a big funfair with lots of people wandering around in quite large groups and many of them having been drinking steadily for an hour or two. The people who ran the rides and the stalls seemed quite exotic, and certainly from a different world into which we dipped very briefly. Some of the younger men minding the rides had that easy lithe confidence as they stepped on and off or between whirling platforms, flirting with and expecting to be regarded as sexy by the gaggles of young women.
The Spanish City Funfair had been closed years ago but there was a temporary spring fairground on the grass near the Spanish City building one foggy May day. I was quite fascinated by the rather creepy atmosphere of the fair in the thick sea fret. It was quiet with mostly adult visitors that day. I returned on a sunny day to capture the fair-by-the-seaside-on-sunny-day atmosphere but had an unpleasant experience which spoiled it for me. It changed how I wanted to portray the fairground.
I chose two of the photos to start this series and did a lot of work on the digital images first, partly so that they would have sufficient contrast to make a good plate but mostly because I had particular textures in mind for them.
I printed the images onto paper and then onto acetate. The acetates are placed on photo-sensitive plates and then exposed to ultra-violet light which, in this case, was in a UV box with a vacuum lid, then developed in the dark room, dried, fixed with gum arabic, and left to set for a while before being printed.
The test plate is to work out which the best length of exposure will be for the full plate. I tried these from 10 units to 30 units, at 5 unit intervals. I decided to try creating and printing the ‘Spanish City Funfair’ first because it looked as if it would work, whilst the other one possibly needs more work and I might scratch into the acetate yet.
I had problems trying to get the plate wet enough so it hadn’t dried out between my putting down the sponge and picking up the inked roller – but not so wet that it lay like a puddle on the surface.
After one newsprint trial )above), I made 4 prints on a thick white paper.
If I’ve cleaned and gummed the plate sufficiently well, I will print form more from this plate, and I’m considering experimenting with some limited hand-colouring, maybe with acrylic inks.