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Matera and Ostuni etchings - ONE SOLD

Matera and Ostuni etchings - ONE SOLD

By Peg Morris


Original artworks

Limited edition etchings

Framed and unframed versions available

Matera two plate etching with aquatint. Dimensions H20cm x W75cm (image size), H40cm x W94cm (framed size)

Ostuni two plate etching with aquatint. Dimensions H20cm x W60cm (image size), H40cm x W80cm (framed size) FRAMED VERSION SOLD

Matera I etching with aquatint, 10x10cm (image size) 18 x 18cm (framed size)

Matera II etching with aquatint, 10x10cm (image size) 18 x 18cm (framed size)

Matera £775 (framed); £600 (unframed)

Ostuni £695 (framed); £550 (unframed)

Matera I & II £95 each (framed)


Peg produces her landscape scenes from detailed drawings and also, sometimes, paints the same scenes before transforming them into prints. She is an able and observant draughtwoman, undaunted by perspective or complexity, whether its European cityscapes and rooftops, building details or tucked-away rural features.

In these two prints, produced from her 'en plein air' drawings and paintings in 2023, we see these wonderful and magical cities sprawling out in front of us: "These etchings were inspired by a visit to Puglia in southern Italy last year. The astonishing panoramas of the extraordinary towns of Matera and Ostuni took my breath away and I knew I had to make etchings in response to what I'd seen. I made some drawings whilst there but also took reference photos. I made scaled-up drawings and then transferred them to etching plates. The process of stopping out the tones on the buildings was extremely complex and took many hours - a real labour of love!" (See below for a full explanation) 


Matera is an ancient city on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy. It includes the Sassi area, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. Evacuated in 1952 due to poor living conditions, the Sassi now houses museums like the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, with period furniture and artisan tools.


Ostuni is a city in Italy’s Apulia region that's known for its whitewashed old town. Ostuni Cathedral combines Gothic, Romanesque and Byzantine elements, while the arched Porta San Demetrio is one of two remaining medieval gates. 


The Process:

The line is made using a hard ground which is made of beeswax, bitumen and resin which is applied to the plate as a resist to the acid. I draw the image using an etching needle which exposes the metal where the lines are drawn. The plate is then put into the acid (Ostuni is etched on copper so it was etched using ferric chloride) and the lines are etched. The etched lines hold the ink which is rubbed over the surface of the plate and the excess is wiped away. 


The tones are added using aquatint. This is a fine resin powder which is spread over the plate using an aquatint box which has paddles to stir the dust up before the plate is placed inside the box for the dust to settle on the surface of the plate. The aquatint dust is then heated so the tiny particles melt and fuse onto the surface of the plate. The tones are then 'stopped out' using stop out varnish, sharpie pens for fine details and litho crayons for graduated tones, all of which resist the acid. 

I start by stopping out all the areas which are to remain white, then put the plate into the acid for a few seconds to etch a pale grey. The areas to be kept at this pale grey tone are then stopped out and the plate is returned to the acid to etch it a little longer for the next tone. This is repeated until all the desired tones have been built up, with the final tone being black. The sky on the Ostuni etching was done using a separate aquatint. The buildings and foreground were then stopped out and the sky was etched using 'spit bite' where the acid is painted directly onto the aquatinted plate to get a more painterly effect for the rain clouds.


Once the plates had been etched they were printed onto dampened paper using an etching press. Ink is spread over the whole surface of the plates and then the excess is carefully wiped away using a soft cloth called scrim. The paper needs to be damp to allow it to be forced into the etched areas to pick up the ink and print the image which of course comes out in reverse, so the whole image was reversed when it was transferred to the plate so that the finished print is the right way round. Every print in the edition is inked, wiped and printed by hand.


    Weather, decay, abandonment, rust, erosion and the effect of changing light conditions; all processes of transformation of the landscape, objects or buildings, inside and out. These effects of ageing and time passing provide a starting point for Peg's work which is rooted in drawing and observation. The process of etching lends itself to representing these themes as the plate is itself eroded by the acid, scraped and polished, scratched and sometimes cut into fragments.


    Based on detailed observation, Peg draws, paints, makes etchings, collagraphs, lithographs and artist’s books. The subject matter dictates how the final piece will be made. This may change and evolve as Peg works or she may use more than one process in the finished piece.


    Peg works at Kew Print Studio and teaches etching. She has recently had work exhibited at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair (2020/2021) and at the Mall Galleries (2021). Her work is held in the V&A archive and the Printmakers Council Archive, as well as in private collections across the UK and abroad.

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