Colin Self

Bomber No. 1


Not on display

Colin Self born 1941
Etching, graphite and chalk on paper
Support: 396 × 576 mm
Purchased 1983

Display caption

Colin Self’s works from the 1960s express his anxiety about nuclear war in a time of Cold War threat and extensive weapon testing. As a child growing up in Norwich during the Second World War, Self witnessed German Luftwaffe bombing raids, and his depictions of bombers are marked by an ambivalent reference to the horror of war, but also to children’s toys. For Bomber No.1, Self used industrial metal objects he found on a rubbish dump, and applied ink to them before passing them through the printing press, manipulating the traditional way of making etchings.

Gallery label, August 2018

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Catalogue entry

P07747 Bomber No.1 1963

Etching from found metal plates laid together, with pencil, chalk and collage 15 5/8 × 22 5/8 (396 × 576), printed by the artist at the Slade School of Art in an edition of 5
Inscribed ‘Colin Self 1963’ b.r. and ‘(Bomber No.1)’ and ‘1/1’ and ‘Edition of 5 or 6 varying prints No.2’
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1983

‘This was and is (remains) a terribly important little etching and IS the world's first Multiple Plate etching.’ The insignia, from model-kit transfers, were added to subvert orthodox printing practice and, as they were different in each case, ‘not to blame any one Nation for the fearful state of the political world’. The plates were found on a rubbish dump at University College; Self sawed one in half to make the wings. Using popular art, ‘people's art’, such as transfers or found components ‘waiting to be printed’, was an important part of the concept of this and other works of this date (and later). This print is related to ‘one or two “Rape” diptych drawings where there were women on the right of the drawing and where a nuclear bomber is flying into the picture on the left. There were transfers on the bombers.’

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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