Custom House Studios and Gallery The Custom House Studios The Quay, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland T +353 (0)98 28735 Gallery opening hours Mon-Fri, 10.00 - 17.00 Sat / Sun / Bank Holidays 13.00 - 16.30 Location Map >>

Lifelines >>

Benita Stoney 
Opens 20 September, 7.30pm


Runs until 21 October 2018

Custom House Studios at Westport Quay are pleased to host an exhibition of printmaking entitled Lifelines by  Benita Stoney. Opening by Dr Éimear O'Connor, Art Historian, Curator, Lecturer, at  Custom House Studios  Gallery,

The Quay, Westport. Co Mayo, on     Thursday September 20st    7.30  pm.



Benita Stoney writes; These prints have all been made in the Custom House print studio.  They run alongside my practice as a portrait painter.  Printmaking was supposed to be a light relief from the intensity of portrait painting, but of course it didn’t turn out like that; printmaking makes its own demands.


The etchings were drawn from life (with the possible exception of the rhinoceros). Life drawing, in which I explore how the body exists in space, is an essential part of my practice. Close observation, the union of eye and hand, and the sudden loss of ego in the mark-making, all feed into what it means to be a representational painter. To make the etchings I go to a life drawing session with a smooth copper plate ready prepared with a protective ground, and with the model in front of me, I scratch through the ground with a sharp tool and I draw what I see. Later the plate goes into the acid bath in the Custom House studio and where the copper is exposed, the acid bites a line.  If I want some of the lines to be light, I take the plate out, cover them, and return the plate for the acid to bite the rest deeper and darker.  When the plate is inked up, the ink sits in the lines and the surplus is wiped off. ‘Carol one Morning’ was done like this. That’s just the start. Endless variation is possible.  In ‘Michelle, Letterdyfe’, I used coloured ink.  In ‘The Rhino’s Kiss’ I rolled another colour over the inked and wiped plate. For the background in ‘The Black Gloves’ I used acquatint which gives you tones, and put a colour roll over the whole thing.


  The black prints are mezzotints. These are different from the etchings in content; they are more about the interior life than exterior appearances. They also differ in technique. In a mezzotint the entire surface of the copper is rough, which will take lots of ink and print dark, velvety, and dense.  I burnish where I want it paler.   This is just a beginning.