The idea for my creative project stemmed from this excerpt from John Gay’s play
The Beggar’s Opera:
Peachum: But ‘tis your duty, my dear, to warn the girl against her ruin, and to instruct her how to make the most of her beauty. I’ll go to her this moment, and sift her. In the meantime, wife, rip out the coronets and marks of these dozen cambric handkerchiefs, for I can dispose of them this afternoon to a chap in the City.
(Act I, scene iv, p. 50)
Peachum is talking to Mrs. Peachum about their daughter’s romance with a infamous highway robber, and Peachum is a thief himself who intends to sell the stolen handkerchiefs. The coronets and marks on the handkerchiefs are a means of identification embroidered on garments; coronets identify the owner as a member of the peerage; cambric means very fine-‐quality linen. Similarly, the handkerchiefs I have used no longer belong to a particular individual; I bought them from an antiques dealer. The handkerchiefs may not be of “fine quality”; however, like the handkerchiefs the thieves stole from the wealthy they too were resold to the masses. Using the process of screen-‐printing via photo emulsion, I have transferred the images of Aubrey Beardsley’s drawings onto the handkerchiefs, and while there is not any embroidery there is Beardsley’s signature present within the image and now on the handkerchief itself. Screen-‐printing using photo emulsion—a process that is prevalent today in 2014 in the reproduction of many graphic images on items like t-‐shirts—further emphasizes just how modern the photomechanical line-‐block process was in the 1890’s. Screen Printing using photo emulsion, like the line-‐block process, can be divided into easily mastered segments that fit into the assembly line system:
-‐Covering the screen with emulsion
-‐Expose screen to light with chosen image set on top
-‐Wash away unexposed emulsion until transparent
-‐Flood screen with ink to transfer image
This creative project is a meditation on the mass production of art, the question of the ownership of art, and the way that the meaning of the text and image itself can change based on the medium and the process of reproduction. Resembling the items in The Yellow Book, the images on these handkerchiefs and the title stand completely on their own ultimately equalizing the image and the text.