Stephen Hoskins has been making kite and aeroplane prints for the last forty years. Inspired by an Uncle who made model aeroplanes in the 1950’s. The prints are as much about the craft of making, as they are a gentle delight in challenging the notions of what constitutes a print and where the perceived borders between the fine and applied arts, end and begin.
Stephen trained as a Fine Art Printmaker, and although he ran a large research department, for the lifespan of this exhibition, his true love is the process making. The research allowed Stephen to gain knowledge and access to new technologies and processes that are becoming, or have become, part of the canon of printmaking. He has an innate dislike of badly made work and uses the term the craft of making deliberately. Stephen says, ‘the act of making work is often more satisfying than showing work. I enjoy trying to make an economical structure that has an elegance and hopefully a beauty.’
An invitation, to take part in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where in response to handling silverware from the collection Stephen was required to make a piece of work, inspired a new direction. He returned to his earlier roots and made a kite based on an eighteenth century toast rack. This was made from glass fibre rod, wood and Japanese handmade paper.
Following this a one man show of three-dimensional prints, with a very short deadline created the impetus, for a new body of work. The toast rack, allowed the ability to drop twenty years of self-imposed restraints and create work, which existed for pleasure as well as challenging problems.
Paying homage to traditional kite manufacture, from Japan, Thailand, Nepal and India, combined with a love of model aeroplanes, these works are only possible due to a marriage of late Twentieth Century technology and the unsurpassable quality of a delicate sheet of hand made paper.
Within the work, the imagery is screen printed onto handmade paper from Japan, Nepal and Thailand. Only delicate hand made sheets such as these are capable of being formed around the compound glass fibre and the laser cut plywood and balsa shapes used in the frameworks. The glass fibre rods are tied and glued together using knots that are traditional. The ply and balsa are laser cut, screen printed and then assembled in the manner of a model aeroplane. Some works are inkjet printed onto 13 gsm tissue to gain a transparency of image that would not be possible in any other way.
All the works have been made over the last 21 years the lifespan of the IMPACT Printmaking Conference. A selection of the kite works in this exhibition, were also shown at the very first IMPACT conference in Bristol. The conference started by Stephen and Chaired by him for many years, has given Stephen a very broad insight into the global practice of printmaking and this has very much influenced the work as it has progressed over the life of the conference
Hoskins, S. "Flight of fancy" A retrospective of prints that fly. [https://www.impact11.hk/application/en/?type=exhibition]. Exhibited at Hong Kong. 20 April 2021 - 25 June 2021. (Unpublished)