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HomeFeaturesFeatured ArtistFeature: Will Pollock, and his Appetite for the Absurd

Feature: Will Pollock, and his Appetite for the Absurd

Artist Will Pollock is currently based in Liverpool with a residency in CBS gallery, Baltic Triangle, showcasing the timeless craftsmanship of lino printing and etching throughout his work.

Lino printing, or linocut, creates a distinctive bold texture, with rich colours, and intricate details, but what Pollock enjoys the most about lino printing is its immediacy and crispness of the prints it creates, along with its deep blocked colour.

One of the standout linocut pieces in Pollock’s portfolio is entitled Stigmata-ed Man Impaled onto a Dear Friend Whom is Still Alive (2020). The print depicts that of what the title intricately describes. The striking contrast between the crisp white paper and the deep black ink creates an iconic image.

When discussing his work, Will Pollock shared that “the piece itself comes from a time in my practice back at the end of my 1st year where I was experimenting with the dichotomy between the name of the piece and the piece itself and whether they can stand on their own, this period of my practice is the beginning of what my practice has since become. The name of the piece is sincere and is what it is, it’s an implied scenario spelt out in a matter-of-fact way.”

This “dichotomy” that Pollock mentions is what gives this print such a sincere sense of intention. With his work, Pollock tells a story that is only enhanced by the artistry of his titles. Through them we learn the connections and relationships that the characters have and can begin to wonder how they got to where they are in this screenshot in their journey. Pollock commented on his ability to “world build”:

“I was always “worldbuilding” to myself and was more inspired by the fantasy novels I was reading or the historical novels my mum was.”

A few generations back, on his father’s side, Pollock has a family history of printmakers. He began incorporating printmaking into his practice whilst he was studying at Carlisle College. He found himself inspired by a sporadic trip to the Rheged Exhibition Centre’s annual print fair, drawn in by the immediacy and textures of the pieces displayed.

Stigmata-ed Man was printed in the first lockdown, using a second hand laminator from the 70s which he utilised as a press. He spent his entire second year at Liverpool John Moores University in lockdown. His room acted as his studio where he began working on a larger scale. He used a Japanese ink brush as he enjoyed the texture and marks that he was able to create with them.

Etching, key to another strand of will Pollock’s work, is a traditional printmaking technique, has been used by artists for centuries to create intricate and expressive images on paper. The process involves using an acid to bite into a metal plate, usually copper or zinc, and then inking the plate and transferring the design onto paper. The resulting prints are known for their iconic fine lines, rich tones, and remarkable depth, achieved through the careful manipulation of the etched plate.

Pollock was introduced to etching by Timney during his time at Carlisle College. The school was on a budget so their materials were limited, they used foil over the inside of an orange juice carton, which Pollock says “works pretty much the same”.

His etching, Prancer’s Clearing (2022), was created from a place of love for the artistry of printmaking, whilst also juggling the visual esoteric theme of his practice. His talent for “worldbuilding” pushes Pollock to install an implied narrative across his works, he can find inspiration from almost any outlet. He stated:

“these pieces were created after I read Fictioning: The Myth-Functions of Contemporary Art and Philosophy by David J. Burrows and Simon O’Sullivan, which is a theory rightly still open to criticism but new enough to have the potential to say a lot.”

Pollock combines his interest in philosophy with his art, he has used it to form a large part of his outlook on life and therefore to his practice. He remarks:

“Philosophy inspired me, especially Camus and absurdism, I can’t think of a way to explain but as soon as you begin to understand and internalise the absurdity of life the more appetite for it you have from my experience. I have that to thank for realising how special our time on this planet is, so you have to love life to live it. And I love life. Not because it’s anything special, but because it’s nothing special.”

His “appetite” for the absurd adds a playful edge to his work whilst also coming across as rather existential. By utilising absurdism, Pollock’s practice uses symbolism to investigate subjective apprehensions regarding life and does so successfully. 

Words & Interview, Molly Kelland