I’ll admit; before this project, I hadn’t heard of Bougainville Island. Â Once part of Papua New Guinea, it is located in the Solomon Islands chain. Â It is home to lush jungles, numerous bird and floral species, and abundant marine life. Â There are six volcanos, including Bagana — which is said to spew “friendly” molten lava 24/7. Â (Unless it’s made of chocolate, I don’t know what “friendly molten lava” is, but I’ll bet it’s spectacular.) Â The mineral-rich island once housed aÂ large Australian mine, but disputes over the mine’s destructive financial, environmental, and social impacts led to its closing, and a long and painful battle for Bougainville’s political independence. Â If you have a bit of free time,Â The Coconut RevolutionÂ is a fascinating documentary on the resolve and resourcefulness of the indigenous people in what has been called “the world’s first successful eco-revolution”. Â I’m not sure what it’s status is today, but I hope it is in a more peaceful place.
I was asked to create a copper map of Bougainville and the nearby islands, including a topographical layer, and text labeling the major points of interest. Â Here is my version, start to finish:
creating the pattern & graphics layout
I wanted the copper and the text to form a balance — both spatially, with the diagonal island shapes balanced by the larger writing in the corners, and in terms of the strong linear quality of both the topographical layer and the font. Â The smaller bits of writing were designed to wrap around the islands and fit within the background squares comfortably.
Â Â Â
stacks of etched zinc Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â printing the text
I etched the zinc to give it a texture, then experimented with the colors on the text. Â I wanted the text to be subtle, so that it didn’t overwhelm the artwork. Â (Think “antique map” versus “child’s coloring book”.) Â The image below shows one and two layers of color, in reverse order. Â I like the cloudy look of the light blue — not right for this piece, but something I want to experiment with in the future.
For this piece, I went with a darker tone to create a striking copper on deep blue combination. Â The writing is visible when the sunlight strikes it, but otherwise forms a more subtle background texture. Â I remember one of my favorite artists Maya Lin talking about how she designed the Vietnam Memorial so that when it rained, the names disappeared. Â The concept of shifting visibility is fascinating to me. Â In this piece, I wanted the words to be a discovery — something that encourages you to come up close and read and touch, or to catch in a glimpse when the light hits it just right.
Bougainville Island detail
Bougainville Island, 16×20