Scottish-born Struan Hamilton has recently arrived in New Zealand to take up position as Team Leader for printmaking at the University of Auckland. Struan is a well-known face from the Belfast arts scene. He arrived in 2000 to take up position in Belfast Print Workshop, an arts hub now based in the thriving Cathedral Quarter where he was the Manager as well as a practising artist.
A graduate of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Struan came to Belfast via spells at Edinburgh and Dundee Print Workshops, and the world-famous Atelier Contrepoint, (formerly Atelier 17), in Paris, where he was assistant to its director, Hector Saunier, and leading artist, Sun Sun Yip.
Struan’s work can be found in public and private collections from the House of Lords to hospital trusts, and football clubs to the national arts council as well as local government councils. The artist also boasts a healthy record of international exhibition.
Struan’s work draws inspiration from the organic within the man-made environment of the modern city. This duality of existence in shapes and forms creates a dynamic dialogue within his work, generating a multitude of visual experiences for the viewer.
Working predominantly in intaglio, specifically viscosity etching, Struan feels the ability to push the surface of an etching plate, and be pushed back in turn by it, generates the dynamism required for the aesthetic experience he aims to produce.
His inspiration is in the everyday objects that surround us, both organic and man-made, from patterns in buildings and the back of billboards to the skyline of mountains and microscopic detail in plants. This visual stimulus is stored away and comes out whenever he is presented with an etching surface, this being his preferred print medium. This technique enables him to treat the plate itself as an almost sculptural form, a work of art in its own right, rather than just a means to an end; that end being a print on paper.
In Struan’s main body of work, the abstract quality is not a deliberate or forced field, but more what seems an inevitable conclusion to the gradual build-up of fine details in quite separate areas on the plate surface. Struan comments that it can sometimes feel as if it is the plate and the etching needle that have more control over the finished piece than any idea he may have originally started with.
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