If a Bird Lands on your Head does it Build a Nest? is one of four stone lithographic editions published by Edinburgh Printmakers in 2017 as part of Great-Rex’s solo exhibition My Cat Knows What I’m Thinking. This exhibition was the first time he exhibited his prints and ceramic works together, and demonstrated that he employs similar techniques when drawing into clay or scratching into a lithograph stone.
His prints draw on the traditions of folk art and in particular chap-prints. Chap-prints were an important medium for the dissemination of popular culture to common people from the 16th to 19th century. They were a medium of entertainment, information and often-unreliable historical narratives printed cheaply and accessible to most. They usually contained image and text and often referred to themes of love, marriage, morality, humour, murders, and judgments of God. Great-Rex uses the aesthetics of chap-prints to draw the viewer in, setting up expectations which are then confounded or challenged, creating a tension between the visual language employed and the underlying content.
Dr Eric Great-Rex (b.1960) was a Fulbright scholar in New York (1982-84) and Printmaking Fellow at the Royal College of Art (1990-92). He has taught at The Royal College of Art, The Slade School of Art, Chelsea School of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and the State University of New York at Purchase.
Great-Rex worked with Edinburgh Printmakers in 2017 to host his solo exhibition My Cat Knows What I’m Thinking, which brought together his ceramics and printmaking into one show for the first time. Edinburgh Printmakers commissioned four lithographic prints for the exhibition, and have also collaborated on a commemorative ceramic plaque in celebration of EPs fiftieth anniversary.
The title for his exhibition came from Great-Rex talking to his cat about his day, what worked, what worried him or what he found funny. How we use objects or animals to process our inner thoughts can be both humorous and insightful. Eric says:
'My plates could sit on mantelpieces or tabletops, nestled among household collections of knick-knacks and memorabilia. I am interested in how we venerate our daily lives and how we talk to ourselves in order to make sense and give meaning to our experiences.'
Great-Rex has been involved with a diverse range of printmaking media and practices for over forty years and has been working with ceramics for the last fifteen. His work in both mediums draws on folk, outsider art and domestic commemorative wares and samplers. He also employs similar strategies when drawing onto clay or stone. He uses scraffito techniques to carve into the surface of the clay while his prints are realised by drawing with tusche and crayon beforeerasing and scratching back into the surface of the stone to reveal the image.
Recent exhibitions include: 2021 Mirror Reflection: International Printmaking Exhibition and Seminar Shanghai Hongqiao Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai, China; 2018 Group Exhibition at Eastbury Manor, Barking, London; 2017 Solo Exhibition at Edinburgh Printmakers, Scotland; 2016 The Last Editions. Multiple Store. The Koppel Project Hive, London; 2015 Group Exhibition. 'The Big Show 9' at the Silas Marder Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York. Http://www.silasmarder.com/the-big-show-09/; 2015 The Multiple Store, London. Sept 21-Nov 13th.; 2015 The Multiple Store http://themultiplestore.org/ London Artfair. Business Design Centre, Islington; Multiple Art Days, La Maison Rouge, Paris. http://www.multipleartdays.com/
Dr. Great-Rex has a PGCert in Higher Education (2001) and an Applied Learning Technologies Certificate from the University of East London (SEDA accredited. 2002). He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2014). Dr. ERIC GREAT-REX received his BA Hon’s Fine Art 1st class in 1980 from Sheffield Polytechnic, his Masters degree in Printmaking from Chelsea School of Art in 1981 and then Professional Doctorate in Fine Art from the University of East London in 2013.