Print of the Month (May 2018) Mary Wafer

This month’s print of the month was chosen by our current intern Sarah Hunkin, a student at the Wits University.

Mary Wafer, Facade, 2015, Hardground etching and aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300gsm, Edition of 20, paper size: 20,22 x 22 cm

Facade is part of a body of paintings and etchings titled Ninth Floor that continue Wafer’s interest in structural marginality and exclusion in contemporary South Africa. Following her previous inquiry into the Marikana massacre, Wafer’s research on John Vorster Square – the police station that embodied the violence of the apartheid system – explores moments along South Africa’s post-democratic timeline in order to interrogate cultural change (or the lack thereof). The sinister, and in places deteriorating, facade of John Vorster Square, now Johannesburg Central Police Station, is, in this work, a signifier of the collective trauma embedded in many of our urban spaces. It embodies a shared anxiety that is a consequence of the brutality of daily life in South Africa. The title is a reference to the poem In Detention by Chris van Wyk. The menacing presence of the police station is a monument to systemic violence, and is painstakingly explored in Wafer’s large oil paintings.

The plate’s hard lines were drawn with different color sharpies and etched for 8 minute. The sharpies act as a resist protecting the copper from the acid. Different colour sharpies have different levels of solubility from the ferric chloride, black being the best to stop out with and yellow eventually allowing the acid to go through.

Wafer and Ross were excited to see the image enlarged and from this emerged the large scale multilayered print Veneer.

Mary Wafer, Veneer II, 2015, woodcut, edition of 10