Prince’s School of Traditional Arts (London)
Whitman’s practice explores aspects of religion and cosmology manifest in the visual arts. She studied printmaking at the Slade School of Art. Later, as a traveller, she focussed on images inspired by the Arab World. Subsequently the influence of figurative imagery in Hindu-Buddhist artistic traditions defined a shift in her work.
Reverting more recently to the English cultural tradition, she produced ‘Black and White in Wuthering Heights’, a print series inspired by the Bronte classic.
She is currently undertaking a practice based PhD at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, researching methods, materials and esoteric influences upon early etching practitioners
The Peacock’s Tail: etching as an alchemical journey
This talk will trace a link between the traditional etching process, from its inception in the late 15th century and its later development into an established art form, with the alchemical discipline which reached its height during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
Three alchemical concepts with significance for the etcher will be outlined: the ‘Peacock’s Tail’, the ‘Alchemical Marriage’, and the ‘Transformations of Mercurius’. References to the alchemical treatise of George Ripley, in Elias Ashmole’s ‘Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum’ of 1652, will be included in the presentation. The ideas conveyed will show how processes and techniques, and an age-old spiritual understanding of materials and their transformation were, and perhaps still are, related to the practice of intaglio printmakers; it will be suggested that this underlying experience is somehow recalled when the traditional method for etching on copper is applied.
The talk will be accompanied by etching plates at defining stages of the process, prints of different ‘states’, and images of emblems illustrating some aspects of the alchemical process.