Artist Uncovered: Alastair Clark

DATE POSTED: 5th of February 2013

Glasgow born Clark graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in Drawing and Painting in 1990 and went on to specialise in printmaking. He is now Assistant Director of Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop where we meet early one morning before the start of his busy day.

He explains that his practice is about the transformative process of printmaking that gives him the freedom to edit images and experiment with tones and that unlike painting where every brushstroke is locked into an unbreakable sequence, printmaking allows him to go back a step or two or more to introduce a different hue or a different perspective.

It is the energy and the beauty of the forces of nature that inspire Clark. Working from satellite image sequences, he takes on those great swirls that permeate our everyday consciousness and shock us with their power for destruction and step by step constructs series of images which although still recognisable are now essentially abstract.

If you get close enough you will notice subtle and deliberate marks in pen
and pastel which are there to remind us that the artist retains manual control over the mechanical printing process.

Ammonite sky, lithograph, 30 x 84 cm
image courtesy of Alastair Clark

He describes his method in his website:

“The prints Longwave and Ammonite Sky were inspired by the Tsunami of Boxing Day 2004, their long shapes originating from weather satellite imagery which I stretched and enhanced until they reminded me of a wave, notably the Japanese printmaker Hiroshige’s famous wave, which also represented a Tsunami.”

Art in Healthcare owns three of Clark’s prints, including this two-part screenprint / lithograph entitled Red Sky at night where the close up view on the left enables us to observe a detail from the bigger picture. Clark often uses this diptych format as a device to provoke our curiosity. For him art and science share the same purpose which is to make us question the world around us.

Red Sky at night, screenprint/lithograph, 83 x 57 cm
Art in Healthcare collection

For the Skylight series Clark worked with the Aurora Borealis which he describes as an elusive mystical phenomenon that few are privileged to witness.

Skylight 2, pigmented inkjet print, 58 x 42 cm
image courtesy of Alastair Clark

After a sighting in Edinburgh, he started by drawing on paper with pastel, he then scanned these drawings and combined them with digital images to reconstruct the display of pure energy he had experienced. With this process of altered reality, Clark certainly gives the series a multi faceted mythical perspective.

There is humour too as the skylight component is a reference to the small aperture near the magnetic poles through which the charged particles enter the earth atmosphere.

Borders and edges are of particular importance to printmakers and Clark’s more recent work plays around with this element. His 2011 ‘Skyshapes’ series, consists of assembled weather satellite scans printed on delineated MDF supports which seem to be floating off the wall. He is currently pushing this idea further still by meticulously creating fictitious islands constructed from pieces of Scottish islands. With these he intends to explore climatic change by showing the relationship between the land and the elements.

Squall, laser cut archival inkjet print, 40 x 47 cm
image courtesy of Alastair Clark

Martine Foltier Pugh is a freelance writer and visual artist based in Edinburgh

Thank you to Alastair Clark for his time and for the use of his images.


Alastair Clark's website
Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop