Interview continued 10

c.c. Most academics, whose raison d’etre is dedidated to establishing accurate chronologies, sifting fact from fiction, they hate copies, transcriptions. They see them as red herrings, blind alleys.

g.d. That’s right, unless it’s long enough ago. Roman copies of Greek sculpture are OK.

c.c. No, that’s because they are good copies.

g.d. Also because they are illustrations, depictions of a common heritage. Until recently you didn’t not paint a crucifix picture just because somebody else had already painted one. There was a need for images that confirmed beliefs.

c.c. And now.

g.d. There’s no need for painting anymore, not actual paint on canvas, it’s so primitive, unless of course that’s the attraction.

c.c. As a painter I don’t go along with that, let’s get back to the forgeries criticlsm.

g.d. Well, marbling is a book art, it’s small scale and done on paper, you can marble material but it always looks unconvlncing.

c.c. Is there a particular type of paper for marbling?

g.d. The paper is all important because the paint is so thin you are always aware of its presence. Also, for integral marbling where the paper is mordanted, marbled, washed, dried and pressed several times you need decent stuff and if you are a paper fetishist you hunt out interesting sheets.

c.c. From where?

g.d. I once bought at a book auction a fantastic portfolio of hundreds of sheets of old paper, some with 15th century watermarks. Strangely the only other bidder was sitting right next to me in the crowded room. The experienced auctioneer effortlessly whipped up the souffle of lust, greed and competition. I held firm and happily paid through the nose for the treasure trove, the most wonderful thing that I have ever bought. After the sale the unsuccessful bidder offered me half the hammer price just for the blue sheets of which there were dozens, full sheets, untrimmed and the very ones that I didn’t need. So, watch out if you collect l5th century drawings!

c.c. You said that forgeries can be defined by their intention to decieve, yet you eagerly set about trying to produce little oriental pictures using antique methods and old paper, it’s not surprisirig that people were suspicious is it?

g.d. That’s a bit rich coming from you. I have on my shelves a catalogue of yours 42 where you drew a cup in 100 different styles. Those pictures of mine were also as much about history as about paper marbling. Firstly I choose well known images to study, secondly I enlarged them 200 % to make it obvious, and still set myself the task to make them look convincing to the untrained eye.

c.c. But what was your intention, why redo anything?

g.d. Because when you are trying to make materials perform, to understand, without any outside help or sufficient instructions you have to try and get inside the head of the hands that made the original pieces that you’ve seen, they are your mentor and guide.

c.c. But as you’ve said that could be a 8th century Chinese monk or William Morris, which. or rather, who?

g.d. I choose Decanni pieces from southern India because they were the most curious, the most challenging. When you are teaching yourself you seek approval, confirmation that you can do whatever it is well, innovation is unhelpful at that stage, presumptuous, it’s too early, it gets in the way, you are concerned with materials, trying, testing, you don’t want to think. It is not until you can do something with predictable results that you can claim it, file it away in the box of technical tricks. So, yes I did set out conciously to imitate 17th century Persian and Indian drawings 43, but they were not exhibited as such. It was my work. I had a seal made of my name and each picture was stamped.

42 Colin Crumplin. ‘Hommage a Queneau’. 1977
43 See Martin F.R. ‘The Miniature Painters of Persia, India and Turkey From the 8th to the 18th century’ 2 vols 1912

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