Susan Early and Jennifer Lane: Watermark

Saturday 27 April – Saturday 1 June 2024
Distant Peak by Jennifer Lane and Nightlight, Dun Laoghaire West by Susan Early, click for info | Susan Early and Jennifer Lane: Watermark | Saturday 27 April – Saturday 1 June 2024 | Graphic Studio Gallery | Image: Distant Peak by Jennifer Lane and Nightlight, Dun Laoghaire West by Susan Early, click for info | the image is a superposition of sections of prints by both artists; we see the top of a lighthouse appearing bottom towards the left, with behind it a pale orange-ish sky and indications of land and sea; almost as though we are looking at the lighthouse through trees, thee are dark quick strokes of greenish black and indications of trunks – though the fact that one of the trunks disappears behind the lighthouse makes the idea of looking through tress impossible; text is superimposed: at the top, ‘WATERMARK’ in a 1920s font, in saturated blue; farther below and between the lighthouse and a thin tree trunk, ‘SUSAN EARLY & JENNIFER LANE’ in a faintish fuchsia shade

An exhibition of Fine-Art Prints by Susan Early and Jennifer Lane

Opening Reception Thursday 2 May at 6pm

An essay by Dr Lisa Moran:

Watermark is an exhibition of fine-art prints by Susan Early and Jennifer Lane responding to the natural and built environment of a coastal landscape.

In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities Marco Polo recounts to Kublai Kahn the various cities he has visited, including the city of Despina which can be reached by ship or by camel.[1] The city displays one face to the traveller arriving overland by camel and a different face to the traveller who arrives by sea. Calvino refers to Despina as ‘a border city between two deserts.’ This notion that our relationship to place is shaped by our formative experience of place – what we know, what we expect – is evident in the work of Susan Early and Jennifer Lane, two artists who share an enduring concern and affinity with nature and the natural environment, and coastlines in particular. The place of Sutton and the Howth peninsula features strongly in their work – its cliffs, mountains, woodland, lighthouse, and beaches. Susan grew up in Sutton and Jennifer continues to live there, and its impact on their respective art work is evident in their depictions of coastlines and their environs. The coastline constitutes a border of sorts, demarcated by the vagaries of the elements and the sea – the watermark – rather than the directives of a cartographer. It also constitutes a filter through which the nature of both land and sea is understood. It is the dual face presented to one who exists in this liminal space between land and sea.

Jennifer trained at the Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design in the 1970s and joined the Graphic Studio Dublin shortly after graduation. Working initially in lithography, she expanded her practice to encompass woodcut and she has honed her skills in drawing, design and printmaking over many years. The process of woodcut printing she employs involves overlaying colour through a reductive woodblock process – cutting into layers of birch plywood, applying colour, printing onto handmade printing paper, drying the print, then cutting further layers into the birch plywood and repeating the process multiple times.  Jennifer describes this complex and labour-intensive process as ‘contemplative and deliberative.’

Her work depicts aspects of the natural environment – trees, coastland, mountains, woodland – drawing significantly, but not exclusively, on aspects of her local environment on the Howth peninsula. Her rendering of tall, thin, fragile vegetation and trees against the backdrop of expansive landscapes in works such as A short walk to the sea, a reduction woodcut and carborundum, and Seawood, a stone lithograph, along with her expressive mark making, which has the light touch of a charcoal drawing, convey both the strength and vulnerability of her subject matter.

Susan trained and practiced as an architect before moving into printmaking. She works in etching, drypoint and woodblock and her interest in both the built and natural environment as her subject matter draws on her training and experience as both an architect and a printmaker. There is a rigour to her rendering of these coastal landscapes and, perhaps influenced by her architectural training, the focus of Susan’s gaze, whether on the Howth peninsula or the Maine coastland, is drawn to coastal structures such as lighthouses and Martello towers. Intended to guard against or foresee danger such as Napoleonic invasions or wayward ships, these ghostly structures are now mostly rendered obsolete or are automated; their warnings moving into a different register of climate catastrophe, rising tides and coastal erosion. In prints such as Nightlight- Dun Laoghaire West & East, etching and aquatint, 2024, Susan presents portraits of the lighthouses as silent witnesses of difficult pasts and portents of uncertain futures.

As both artists can attest, the Graphic Studio Dublin has been an important resource in the realisation of their respective printmaking practices. Unlike painting or sculpture, printmakers are dependent on access to specialist facilities and equipment such as printing presses to create their work. Organisations such as the Graphic Studio Dublin, which celebrated its sixtieth birthday in 2020, are critical components in the delicate infrastructure of such art making, not only in terms of providing access to such equipment but also to a shared community of artists and mutual support.

Watermark, which points to the fragile, transient and elusive, is a timely reflection on the vulnerability and beauty of the natural environment so exquisitely presented in this body of fine art prints. It is both a celebration and a cautionary tale about what is at stake.


Dr Lisa Moran is an artist, education curator and researcher.

[1] Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, trans. William Weaver, NY and London: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1972.

watermark – definition:     wa·ter·mark ˈwȯ-tər-ˌmärk 

: a subtle image permanently impressed into paper. It identifies the source of the sheet and may contain, for instance, the paper mill’s trademark or the brand name of the paper, eg somerset or hahnemühle and identifies the paper as authentic.

: a mark indicating the height to which water rises at high tide, as in a river or rocky coastline. Also, high-water mark.

Image: Distant Peak by Jennifer Lane and Nightlight, Dun Laoghaire West by Susan Early, click for info
Saturday 27 April – Saturday 1 June 2024
Graphic Studio Gallery
off Cope Street
Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 1 679 8021
Opening hours / start times:
Monday 10:00 - 17:30
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:30
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:30
Thursday 10:00 - 17:30
Friday 10:00 - 17:30
Saturday 11:00 - 17:00
Admission / price: Free
Through the Arch off Cope Street (behind the Central Bank)

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