Anthony Salter’s “Mind the Gap” is currently on show at the Royal Academy of Arts after being accepted for the prestigious Summer Exhibition. He explains the thought process behind the piece, why he decided to use a mixture of techniques to create it, and what being in the show means to him.
Where did the idea for “Mind the Gap” come from?
“It just struck me. I was on Greenwich station platform, standing near the drivers’ monitor, and I noticed that the metal bridge at nearby Deptford was positioned directly under it in my sight line. I thought the composition looked so good, it was such a strong, sculptural image. It would be interesting to see what the train driver’s view of the screen is. I don’t know if it would be that distorted, but standing on the platform, that’s how it looked. But I thought, it’s such an interesting structure, plus the screen. I just love the image. It’s very science fictiony, isn’t it?”
It’s an interesting mix of techniques – photogravure (an etching produced from a photograph) and linocut. Why did you choose to use them together?
“I love photogravure because I knew I could photograph that image and reproduce it on to a print with all its intricate detail, and I was also fascinated by the distortion of the platform on the screen. But I also like the contrast between the hand-crafted linocut and the technical precision of photogravure.”
What does it mean to get into the Summer Exhibition?
“It’s a real treat, a real thrill to get in. I’ve been in a few times before and I have always enjoyed the experience. When you get that email to say you’ve been shortlisted, and then the one that says you’ve made it, it does feel special and well worth all the effort trying to get your work accepted.”
How has the experience been this time?
“It’s good fun, so enjoyable. I saw people I knew at Varnishing Day – which is a celebration for the artists, when they get to see the exhibition for the first time and find out where their work has been hung – and there was quite a group of current and former Greenwich Printmakers there. Very exciting.”
So it’s a nice way to catch up with people too?
“Yes, I met Sonia Rollo, a former member of Greenwich Printmakers, when we were going in to hand our work in for judging, so I was pleased to see her on Varnishing Day, that she’d got through. And Tammy Mackay, who is a fellow Greenwich Printmaker. Plus my friends Nick Richards [former Greenwich Printmaker] and Richard Spare – it was great to see them there too.”
The Summer Exhibition is renowned for being very competitive, attracting thousands of submissions each year. Do you apply every time?
“I like the idea of working towards something. The application deadline is in early February, and it’s a rotten time of year, so you can just put your mind to it, forget the weather and enjoy thinking about an image to work on and print. I think, for me, it’s a good thing to do. It’s an incentive to get cracking with new work in the New Year.”
“Mind the Gap” is quite different in style from some of your previous prints.
“Yes, I felt I wanted a change because I’d been doing the conventional etching plates for some years. I’m very happy with what I’m doing now, because I love photography, so therefore photo etching, but I also love the joy of linocutting, so it’s combining my two favourite mediums. And thankfully, people have liked it. So it’s working out well.”
“Mind the Gap” is on display in Gallery VII, Royal Academy of Arts, until August 12. More of Anthony’s work is available, framed and unframed, at Greenwich Printmakers Gallery, 1a Greenwich Market, London, SE10 9HZ. For more information about Anthony, visit www.anthonysalter.co.uk.