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exhibitions & events 2024

Ken Currie: A Bestiary

Ken Currie: A Bestiary
Glasgow Print Studio Ground Floor Gallery
Exhibition Runs: 3 May - 29 June 2024

Preview: Preview: 6-8pm, Thursday 02 May

Glasgow Print Studio are pleased to present a new suite of 7 etchings by Ken Currie based on the poetry of Ted Hughes.

See the full suite of etchings here

On Ted Hughes

Like many Scottish teenagers I was introduced to Ted Hughes’s poetry in my 5th year at secondary school in the 1970s. Our English teacher presented us with poems from Hughes’s Lupercal collection from 1960.  For me, the poems that stood out were RelicHawk Roosting and Pike.  I was stunned by the imagery and Hughes’s entirely unsentimental view of animals and the natural world.  The poems spoke to me of my own experience in my home town where violence toward, and of, animals was a commonplace spectacle.  And, of course, the violence that went beyond the animal, into the human world. Often it seemed as a young teenager that my own home patch, my neck of the woods, was one long drama of violence, human and animal.  The debt I owe Hughes is that his work, among others, was instrumental in setting me on a path that pulled me out of that world, opening up new horizons.

Later, when I went to art school, I was introduced to the work of Francis Bacon and his early paintings of animals seemed to me to viscerally connect with Hughes.  At art school I read Hughes’s Crow collection again and again.  This work confirmed for me that our world of violence and brutality could be transfigured through poetry into something altogether mythic - in other words, into great, tragic, cathartic art, like Bacon’s.

His work has stayed with me ever since, its power undiminished and in fact, ever more revealing.  Hughes is someone I have returned to throughout my life.  I find in the poems that most interest me an incredible incisiveness in the language - visceral, gory and unflinching.

For many years I have wanted to somehow make images after Hughes’s poems.  I felt it as an irresistible pressure.  Painting them seemed like some obvious, overblown thing but to translate them into graphic works, etchings - that felt absolutely right.  In a way etching is about doing violence to a pristine sheet of metal - gouging, biting, scraping and through huge pressures imprinting an image onto paper.

In these seven new etchings I hope I have done justice to Hughes’s brilliant imagery.

I would like to thank Glasgow Print Studio for the opportunity to make editions of these prints and would particularly like to thank Master Etchers Stuart Duffin, Alistair Gow and Ian McNicol.  Without their expertise and tenacity the prints you see before you would have been impossible.

Ken Currie, April 2024

See the full suite of etchings here

Image: Crow, 2022, etching, 67 x 52 cm, edition of 40.


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