Microscopic marine life forms. Mezzotints and etchings by J. Furst, 2013-2014.
- Copus, Jane Furst, 1944-
About this work
"The present series of intaglio prints (hand made artist's prints) are based on studies of microscopic marine life forms; animal and plant. They are inspired by the work of the nineteenth century biologist Ernst Haeckel. Some of the forms are the exoskeletons of unicellular animals, others are radiolarian and diatoms, yet others might be small star fish. I often choose images which suggest a metaphor for some other idea as in the etching Queen & King. In some of the etchings I make reference to geometry and numbering. In plant forms and small marine creatures it is possible to see basic geometry such as are found in the Platonic solids; cube, tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron & dodecahedron. Also basic divisions; 3, 4, 5, 6 are clearly visble"-- Jane Furst, accompanying sheet
Artist's statement: "In the Marine Machine series I am selecting images from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen which suggests metaphors for things from the human domain. In the ten prints from this 1st folio there is a story emerging about a microscopic Queen and King who are creating life forms around them to house and fill their domain which would be ever expanding to keep them company. When looking at small and microscopic sea creatures from Ernst Haeckel's drawings or indeed later photographically observed discoveries, there are a myriad of bewildering variations but only some of them jump out at me from the page and ask to be drawn again for my printmaking; perhaps to tell the story:
"Embryo - The beginning of a creature; a spiral, both fascinating and disturbing ; Heart - Love, pulsating and radiating but enveloping ; Sea chimes - Bells ring out in celebration at the birth; embellishment, decoration ; Pumps (x 2) - Transparent 'machines' which instigate movement and refresh the ambience ; Knight - The shielded protector; hidden warrior, something flexible but hard ; Queen & King - Primitive hierarchy, the lords, the instigators, the arbitrators ; Royal vessels - Masculine and feminine principles, sacred containers, precious secrets
"I find, while working on this idea, I see forms in nature emerge and recur to express poetic themes and images which are familiar to us. When I was developing my botanical paintings of seed pods in the 1990s, I often observed this phenomenon. There is, however, another important motivation and that is the amazing potential for something so small as a seed pod or a microscopic creature to have a monumental presence. The title Marine Machine came from the first mezzotint I did which shows two sea cucumbers overlapping like cogs in a machine. The meaning behind this for me is that the myriad of sea life activity, both large and minuscule, is the mechanism which supports also terrestrial life. At the fundamental level it is those billions and trillions of tiny living things, both animal and vegetable, which inhabit the seas, who are our first ancestors. They have existed for millions of years. The question is; as we evolved from this, is there some echo memory in our brains of where we have come from? How can it be that, for example, a particular specimen of Radiolarian or foraminifera resembles a medieval helmet yet another resembles the headwear of a Japanese samurai?"
- portfolio and ten prints in eleven impressions
Where to find it
portfolio and 10 prints
1 "Queen" (Radiolaria). Etching with aquatint printed in rose madder and stiff black, platemark 11.4 x 8.2 cm. 2014
2 "Marine machine II: embryo" (Foraminifera). Mezzotint printed in magenta and stiff black, platemark 10.7 x 9.4 cm. 2013
3 "Marine machine II: heart" (Foraminifera). Mezzotint printed in magenta and stiff black, platemark 10.7 x 10.8 cm. 2014
4 "Marine machine III: sea chimes 1" (sea-cucumbers, related to sea-urchins and starfish). Mezzotint printed in rose madder and stiff black, platemark 7.9 x 10.3 cm. 2013