microcosms – beauty in miniature

When closely examined the smallest, most commonplace, trivial and neglected objects may appear vibrant with unexpected beauty. A pebble thrown into a pond gives rise to serenely radiating circles. In ancient Greek the word “Kosmos” meant, among other things, “beauty”. Microscopic objects of beauty - or beauty on a miniature scale - are what have given this exhibition its name - “microcosms”.

The praying mantis, the spider, the house fly – these inhabitants of the world of insects and arachnids– stimulate my visual repertoire, thereby generating images of broken symmetries, traceries, spirals, quasi fugal intricacies, variations and series.

Over the last five years I have enjoyed the privilege of studying and experimenting with lithographic printing techniques at the Munich Lithographic Artists’ Studio. Owing to the extraordinary versatility of this medium I have now at my disposal a very large range of possibilities for the realization of my ideas.

My point of departure was the discovery of a stack of detailed maps which had belonged to my grandfather. These precise, highly aesthetic lithographic documents, all dating from the beginning of last century, fired my imagination and inspired a series of inner landscapes and thought maps. These in turn led to a spate of coloured lithographs, chine collées, collages, oils and watercolours on paper, canvas and wood, and finally a number of book projects.

The focus of the exhibition in the Bad Rappenau castle is the series “Microcosms - From the Diary of a Fly” which was begun in 2011. The title is borrowed from a short piano work of the same name by Béla Bartók which appears in volume six of his “Microcosmos”. The fascinating little pieces in this collection pointed me in the direction of the realm of microorganisms. I paid a visit to the department for Diptera in the Munich State Zoological Collection and sketched several insects from their extensive depot. Somewhat later I discovered a large number of houseflies in Schloss Fürfeld which had not survived the winter. Using a simple digital microscope I examined some of their wings and discovered a filigree world of patterns and structures, some delicate, others threateningly dramatic. I took more than 500 photographs of this fascinating microscopic world upon which I had more or less accidentally stumbled.

Self-similar structures and patterns abound in nature, at the microscopic as well as the macroscopic level, but also in the music, for example, of Bach, Beethoven, Bartók and Schönberg. In Munich our apartment is filled with music. My husband, the pianist Michael Leslie, practises several hours a day, and the experience of constant envelopment by his music is a deep source of inspiration for me. The ideas generated in my imagination by aural and visual structures continually struggle to find expression in my paintings, drawings, lithographs and photopolymer intaglio prints.

From the autumn of 2013 till early 2014 I worked on three series of intaglio prints using light sensitive photopolymer plates, solar plates.

Series I some of the works in this series are two colour prints in which intaglio and relief techniques have been combined in one printing process.

Series II consists of polychrome relief prints in which up to five printing plates were used.

Series III are intaglios based on images of houseflies obtained with the kind assistance of the scientist Klaus Macknapp from the Deutsches Museum in Munich using the museum’s scanning electron microscope.

Finally, the series “El Diari d’una Muca” was created during my stay at the Studio Artprint residence of Jordi Rosés Pou at Arenys de Munt near Barcelona.


My special thanks go to my pianist husband Michael Leslie for the constant musical inspiration,Tom Kristen, head of the Lithographic Artists’ Studio, (Steindruck, München), for his warm, ungrudging and professional support, Jordi Rosés Pou, the kind, unassumingly modest, yet highly disciplined Catalonian intaglio master, andKlaus Macknapp, the scientist from the Deutsches Museum who gave so generously of his time for my work at the scanning electron microscope.