Edinburgh Printmakers: Transparency, Mouth of a Shark

Still from what sound does the black atlantic make by Alberta Whittle 2019 13. blk atlantic
Still from what sound does the black atlantic make by Alberta Whittle 2019

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Until 5th January

Transparency: Alberta Whittle & Hardeep Pandhal is formed by commissioned and curated works in print, moving image, drawing and installation. The two-person exhibition at Edinburgh Printmakers is curated by Mother Tongue – formed in 2009 – which is sourcing new acquisitions for Glasgow Museums.

The exhibition explores the multiple definitions, semantics and etymological roots of the word ‘transparency’. Also highlighted is the architectural heritage of the Castle Mills site now occupied by Edinburgh Printmakers – formerly a silk factory, premises of the North British Rubber Company, and a brewery. Scotland’s colonial history is represented here through layers inspired by the printmaking process.

Transparency_Alberta Whittle and Hardeep Pandhal at Edinburgh Printmakers photo by James Boyer Smith
Transparency: Alberta Whittle and Hardeep Pandhal at Edinburgh Printmakers. Photo by James Boyer Smith


Alberta Whittle’s artistic practice uses interactive installations, film, sculpture and performance as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces. She applies the concept of radical self-love and collective care in response to anti-blackness. What Sound Does The Black Atlantic Make? (2019) is a screen-printed triptych. The words of the text are printed on a layer behind transparent yellow perspex which has been laser-cut to highlight the title words in the background. It brings our attention to the struggle to see things clearly as if physical layers of time, although transparent, have slightly obscured the memory.

Whittle also presents an accompanying film following research in the archives of the North British Rubber Company. The film explores the properties of rubber and the process of industrial manufacturing. “In a hostile environment, respectability will not save you” flashes white text on black screen. The soundtrack seems like a human heartbeat. She also exhibits floor and wall-based works here.

“Underlining this new body of work is the implication that race has rendered certain people disposable, where they can be used as shock absorbers to take on the stress of labour in post-war Britain but they will be transformed into illegal aliens when they are no longer welcome.” – Alberta Whittle

Still from what sound does the black atlantic make by Alberta Whittle 2019 6. blk atlantic
Still from What Sound Does the Black Atlantic Make? by Alberta Whittle, 2019


Hardeep Pandhal, new to printmaking, has created a new series of eight paired etchings. The image used in Happy Punjabi Gothic (2019) is appropriated from a Gaganendranath Tagore drawing satirising colonialism. A dark and grainy effect is created by wearing down the etching plates and applying hand-drawn marks directly to the prints as well as chain stitches. Pandhal’s works often reference his own background as a second-generation British Sikh. He works in film, rap, sculpture and painting, often with caricatures, exploring racial tensions with humour.

“I was interested in ideas of repatriation, from immigration policies to museum collections…I wanted to renew the gothic’s capacity to incite pleasurable fear as a genre, but from a postcolonial perspective…” – Hardeep Pandhal

A series of commissioned texts will also be published by writers Aman Sandhu, Cass Ezeji and Danny Pagarani, responding to the works here.

Anna York monoprints 2019
Anna York – Mouth of a Shark, monoprints, 2019


Running concurrently to Transparency: Alberta Whittle & Hardeep Pandhal in Gallery 2 is a new exhibition by artists from Edinburgh Printmakers and Cork Printmakers. Mouth of a Shark explores the concepts of home and displacement as artists share reflections and responses to British Somali poet Warsan Shire’s powerful poem Home. Anna York’s monoprints are particularly powerful and compelling. The accompanying narrative to these artworks tells the personal stories of Syrian women who have made their home in Edinburgh.

This is an exhibition to move slowly around and digest. Let the works sink in and feel the weight of centuries of culture and history and examine what still exists even in the smallest hint of a word or gesture. Through sensitive research and transforming appropriated imagery, you can get the sense of how language and images infuse everything from politics to culture to trade.

Castle Mills
1 Dundee Street
Edinburgh EH3 9FP

Image: Still from What Sound Does the Black Atlantic Make? by Alberta Whittle, 2019

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