Mark Daffin, a printmaker, entered this course with an honours degree in Illustration.
Of his course, Mark says, “I really can’t express how much I have gained from completing the M.A., both personally and from a professional aspect. I now have a clear view of where I want to head with my work in the future.”
Following graduation, Mark was commissioned to provide artwork for huge, striking banners for in the Lady Chapel in Worcester Cathedral to mask restoration work to the East Window. He was chosen to undertake this commission as his style and method of working would meet the requirement for bold, clear images in the situation in which they would be viewed. The distinct identity of the imagery is a result of the linocut relief printing technique employed and it is reminiscent of the traditional crafts that created the Cathedral. Mark says of his approach to the commission, “Before designing the images, I spent some time in the Cathedral studying the beautiful stained glass windows. I was motivated to create prints in my style and media that sympathetically worked alongside the windows and fitted in with the stunning architecture of the Cathedral.”
In describing his technique, Mark says, “The process starts with rough sketches; as with most illustrative practices, the lines are then refined with a paintbrush and ink or a brush pen. This initial stage defines shape and quality of line and all of the details and nuances are added during carving. The image is either drawn directly onto the wood block or linoleum, or drawn on paper first and then transferred to the block. The next stage involves carving out all of the negative space, so that only the image remains in relief. This stage is the most enjoyable and rewarding for me. Once the block is finished, oil or water based relief ink is then rolled on to the block, paper is placed upon the block and the paper and block are placed between two boards and pressed through a printing press.” The final prints were scanned and digitally processed for the printing stage for the banners at the Digital Arts Centre at the University.
There are three subjects, all of which are associated with the Cathedral. As the location is the Lady Chapel, the centrepiece of the triptych is Mary. On either side of her are St Oswald and St Wuflstan, their heads bowed in reverence and worship. Mary's halo envelops a crown to symbolise her position as queen of the heaven and the angels. This halo is the most elaborate of the three to represent her identity as the mother of Christ. The lily at her feet represents her seven sorrows and its symbolic links to purity, chastity and virtue.
To the left of Mary stands St Oswald of Worcester. He holds a large bible in one hand. This not only symbolises his devotion to the faith but is also a reference the magnificent bible that he gifted to Ramsey Abbey, which he was founded. In his other hand, he holds a stonemason’s hammer: this symbolises his building of a cathedral on this site in 983, to which he established and attached another monastery. The three pears at his feet are a direct reference to the charges on the coat of arms of the City of Worcester.
Mark is now developing his practice as a printmaker, an area he discovered and developed whilst a student on the course.