Image of the Month – Shard by Austin Cole RBA ASGFA

“This print is the first of four studies of the Shard from different vantage points.

SGFA Journal Cole v 2I know that the Shard is a like-it-or-hate-it building. People think it is too big and that it overpowers the surrounding area, which is true. But I love the way its glass walls reflect the sky and clouds. Sometimes on cloudy days the building is coloured like the scales of a fish, shimmering silvered grey in reflected light. Or, when the sun shines on it directly, it seems to have solid walls of gleaming glass.

I work mostly from photographs. The photograph on which this print is based was taken from Druid Lane, which leads from Tower Bridge Road to St Thomas Street. I liked the way the Shard seemed to rise up from the rail bridge. I was also attracted to the contrast in the dark shadow of the road under the bridge, and I liked the lightness of the Shard’s structure which seems to spring from that dark area.

My prints are mostly created using soft-ground acid resist and an aquatint which is a resin melted onto the metal plate. Areas are then stopped out and dipped into acid in order to build up tones. I use a stop-out or circuit pen used in electronics — which again acts as an acid resist — in order to get the detail of the bridge girders and the individual panes of glass on the Shard. For this print I then polished out areas on one side of the building, to create the look of light striking the Shard.

The sky was created using spit bite: after stopping-out the Shard and bridge, I used an aquatint resin onto which, in pools of gum Arabic, I dropped pools of acid which bit into the plate. I then moved the pools of acid around using a brush or a feather. This gives the clouds a “liquid” look, adding atmosphere and movement to the print.

Beijing Hutong 1

Beijing Hutong 1

Although I work in a traditional medium, I regard myself as a contemporary artist working in the “now”. My main subjects are the urban landscape of the city and the coastal landscape of Pembrokeshire. My artistic inspirations and influences are many: from Anselm Kiefer and Christian Boltanski, to artists working in the medium of printmaking, such as Rembrandt, Goya, Toulouse-Lautrec, Frank Brangwyn, Muirhead Bone and Picasso, as well as contemporary printmakers like Norman Ackroyd, Chris Orr, Celia Paul and Jason Hicklin.”

Beijing Hutong 2

Beijing Hutong 2

Profile of the Artist Austin Cole RBA ASGFA is a Welsh artist/printmaker born in Pembrokeshire, South Wales who has lived and worked in London for 34 years.

He has an MA and a BA (Hons.) degree in Fine Art from the Sir John Cass School of Art. Austin studied printing making at City Lit, the Slade School of Fine Art and Morley College in London. He has more than 25 years of printmaking experience in etching and stone lithography. His prints have been exhibited extensively in London, Bath and elsewhere in the UK. Austin has shown his work at the Royal Academy Summer exhibition, the Discerning Eye and the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize exhibition, as well as at Originals and Bite. He has also exhibited with the London Group, at the Courtauld Institution as part of their East Wing exhibitions of contemporary art, at the Living in London exhibition at Bankside Gallery and at the Royal College of Art’s Secrets exhibition.

Austin was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) in 2011, and an Associate Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art in 2014. For more about Austin please visit his web site

About Cynthia Barlow Marrs SGFA

Artist: I draw. Land planner: I was. Urban Sketcher: I am. SocietyofGraphicFineArt - The Drawing Society: I belong.
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3 Responses to Image of the Month – Shard by Austin Cole RBA ASGFA

  1. brigdale says:

    Fab Cynthia

    Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:40:28 +0000 To:

  2. Bob Ballard says:

    Fascinating stuff, tactile and pictorially rich. I shall unashamedly pinch some of your methods -immediately!

  3. Jo Hall says:

    Wonderful work Austin, really like the Beijing prints too!

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