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Edition: 25
Artist’s Proofs: 3
Image Size: 27″ X 27″

Fluid Dynamics / Silt Sidewalk Suspension Artist Statement

Written by Rachel Maddock

A stylistic departure for Ross Penhall in form and concept, Fluid Dynamics / Silt Sidewalk Suspension places patterns side by side and allows the viewer to make associations.

The work is a copper plate etching, a traditional form of printmaking using archival paper and chine-collé tissue paper. Made in collaboration with the Vancouver printmaking company New Leaf Editions, the crisp black-and-white graphic quality of the etching gives visual emphasis to its subtleties in texture.

Fluid Dynamics / Silt Sidewalk Suspension presents a visual dichotomy. On one side are human footprints and other tracks pressed into silt-covered concrete, a photographed index of urban passersby. On the other, carefully scripted study notes (by the artist’s daughter Sophie Lou Penhall) describing fluid dynamics in engineering―a lens through which humans understand the relationship of fluids to solids.

Conceptually there is a delicate give and take: rigorous markings by hand are aligned next to the thoughtless prints of sidewalk commuters. We observe two patterns of urban existence, connected as they are to the larger framework of Western academic thought. In the work the intricacies of the natural world, so quickly stepped over and forgotten, are broken down through analysis, then brought alive by aesthetics.

Photo credit: Jackie Nicholas

Fluid Dynamics / Silt Sidewalk Suspension is both simple and profound, negotiating a meeting point between art and science. The artist’s keen eye is at work, translating the world not with paint and brush but through the curiosities of observation and connection.