Pia Östlund, Sea of Love

Preview Thursday 13 June, 6:30 - 8:30 pm

Exhibition 14 June to 13 July 2024

Sea of Love is the latest 'nature printing' project by London-based artist and designer Pia Östlund in her quest to revive a lost 19th century printmaking method and to use it as a tool for creative collaborations.

For her exhibition at No Show Space Östlund turns her attention to the unique environment of the Koster Sea, on the Swedish border to Norway, and the work carried out by marine scientists at Tjärnö Marine Laboratory, University of Gothenburg. Östlund gained access to the laboratory via a summer residency in 2023 becoming part of a community passionate about the sea and witness to investigations of how climate crisis affects the seaweed belts in the waters of Kosterhavet.

Nature printing is a rare printmaking process which uses actual plant specimens, electro-chemistry and traditional copperplate printing to create strangely life-life images on paper, with a curious texture in relief. The method was out of use and largely forgotten for nearly 150 years. Having worked for many years as a designer for Chelsea Physic Garden and Oxford Botanic Garden, Östlund first discovered this rare Victorian method in the inner library of the Physic Garden. Following extensive research and with the help of a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust grant, she recently spent two months in Denmark learning from the Master Printmakers at BORCH Editions, Copenhagen, and refining the platemaking process.

The exhibition will showcase nature prints and copper printing-plates made in Denmark using seaweed and other organisms collected during her residency at Tjärnö. Textile and video pieces will also be on display evoking the coastal Laboratory setting and the activity there.

As the oceans call out for our attention, Sea of Love draws parallels between printmaking, marine sciences and the passionate pursuit of finding things out.

This is part of a wider body of work and research on Nature printing from Pia Östlund,highlights include: 'Capturing Nature'publication with Matthew Zucker, Princeton Architectural Press, 2023 and accompanying exhibition,touring to Singapore Botanic Gardens 2023 and Oxford Botanic Garden 2022;'The Nature-Printer – A tale of industrial espionage, ferns & roofing-lead', Simon Prett & Pia Östlund (The TimPress) 2016; Group Exhibition at Cristina Enea Fundazioa San Sebastian Spain (Toya Legido & Ana J. Revuelta) 2023 and The Lost Art of Nature Printing Talk at Royal Horticultural Society London UK (Lindley Library) 2021.

Pia Östlund, born 1975, Sweden, is based in London, UK. She received an MA (Res) Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading in 2013 and BA Graphic Design, Central Saint Martins in 2000.

Printmaking copper plate of seaweed by Pia Östlund
Photo: Pia Östlund