Tricia Torrington

As a printmaker she is always thinking of the outcome of the materials used and is fascinated by the alchemic change that happens, which is often with a degree of independence from the artist’s intention.

The use of acids, metal, wood, inks, oils, water all give a unique twist on the outcome of these prints. Ink has a special quality, different from oil paint, gouache or watercolour. It has clarity and layers that can be explored – just like Alchemy. The other driving force in this work is the use of poetry to show the processes in Alchemy. These processes in developing The Philosopher’s Stone or The Elixir of Life – in the making of gold itself – go through a trial of colour, black (nigredo), white (albedo), yellow (citrinitas), red (rubedo), iridescence, fire and gold.

The Philosopher’s Stone can be ‘made’ in order to promote gold or silver. The colours associated with gold transmutation include red, mauve, blue, saffron yellow and ochre. Also, of course, charcoal. The silver Philosopher’s Stone is clearer, whiter, but has the same trace elements of mauve, red and ochre with high touches of blue. The stone is made from crystals and is not, as may be supposed, round. There is also “sacred geometry” associated with Alchemy, especially in squaring the circle.

“Make of a man and woman a circle; then a quadrangle; out of the this a triangle; make again a circle, and you will have the Stone of the Wise. Thus is made the stone, which thou canst not discover, unless you, through diligence, learn to understand this geometrical teaching.”┬áMichael Maier (Atalanta Fugiens)

Tricia wanted to take print in to 3D and making The Book of Quintessence offered her an opportunity to do this, with the printed bowls as crucible and mortar. One of the images that is the eternal symbol of such process is the oroboros (the serpent who eats its own tail forging a ring that holds for eternity). The concept of oneness and the link to the influence of planetary movement led to the inclusion of an interpretation of the Orrery – that wonderful mechanical planetary motion in which she again brings in the same colours – but overriding everything is the idea of gold. In order to get the right consistency and viscosity, Tricia has mulled the Gold ink, using ground gold powder (the silver ink using silver powder).

The Orrery pictures and those making up the series on the Stone of the Philosophers are monotypes. They use similar elements and the same plates, but are inked differently for different effects. Nevertheless these unique pieces form a very limited work in series.