About the work
Working across painting, etching and mixed media, much of Pauline Aitken’s practice is concerned with representing the internal natural workings and structures of plants and flowers. She finds that 'examining small areas of surface detail reveals a new world, remarkable, fantastic and very beautiful,’ and explains that her work is, ‘a celebration of this "unseen" world.' Much of the beauty in these subjects lies in the way Aitken conveys their formal structure with a sense of wonder and excitement.
The title of this work, Skein suggests the web-like structure of the composition. ‘Skein’ can refer to both a bundle of thread and a tangle or confusion. Exactly what Aitken has intended in this print is left to us to decide, but it is evident that something underneath the threads of the structure is busting to escape.
Pauline Aitken was born in Bedford in 1943. She studied at the Slade School of Art in London from 1961 to 1966, winning several prizes. On finishing college she taught at several art colleges, including Leicester, Winchester, Bournemouth, Poole and Harrow, and returned to the Slade in 1979 as a visiting lecturer. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the UK and is represented in several British public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Arts Council. A solo exhibition of her work was presented at the Castle Museum in Norwich in 1983. During a research residency at the University of Cambridge from 2002 to 2003, she took the opportunity to study plant tissue using microscopy and to develop images through inkjet and laser printing. She currently lives and works in Suffolk.
About the artist
Pauline Aitken was born in Bedford. She studied at the Slade School of Art (1962–64), winning the Slade Etching Prize in 1965. She has exhibited in group shows including Young Contemporaries (Royal Academy, 1964) and the Bradford International Print Biennale (1968–69). Her first solo show was held at the Curwen Gallery in London in 1966. Based in Suffolk, Aitken exhibits her work regularly at Jill Bishop Contemporary Art in Halesworth. Her work focuses on forms and ideas based upon botanical and zoological processes. During 2002–2003, she undertook a research residency at the University of Cambridge, where she produced prints based on the study of plant tissue. More recently, also at the University, she has worked in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience on 'Cardio-Active', a project funded by the Wellcome Trust, that explores the form and function of the human heart, in context also with the foxglove plant that has been used since the 18th century for the treatment of some heart conditions.
Pauline Aitken (1943 - )
- Colour etching
- Purchased from Editions Alecto, February 1970
- GAC number