Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Layouts and Landscapes

After weeks of testing out materials, exposure times, and half-baked ideas, I'm in the final stretch of my residency here at USM (Universiti Sains Malaysia). Now I'm working on large-scale art that's building on what came before (currently on exhibition at the University's Adiwarna gallery).

These Cyanotypes are printed on many pieces of paper that form large composite images. The silhouettes are cut from an assortment of what people here in Malaysia use every day for life, for work, or for ceremonies (mehndi stencils, Malaysian kerchiefs, Chinese joss papers).


Here I'm laying them out:

layout 1



Then I paint the background with Cyanotype chemicals. For this series – the first time ever – I'm deliberately painting the solution (like watercolor) to form an integral part of the image.


layout painted


Then I print it in the sunlight, where it turns blue:

layout printing


The text in these images are my words: my impressions of Penang over the past year, from personal and public writing. It was written in English, then translated into Malaysia's official languages of Tamil, Traditional Chinese and Bhasa Melayu via Google Translate.


From the exhibition catalog:

"Some places exist most completely in the mind. There, the past, present and future can coexist without constraints or contradiction. The artwork I make is blue and white — the colors of sea and sky. The art hints at possibilities: where the horizon is softened by haze, you will find an illusion of infinity."


layout entire

"Imaginary Landscape of Betel-Nut Island", 3 feet x 5 feet, 2011, Cyaotype print on handmade paper


The spires of a mosque are my favorite part of this piece. Here, text becomes texture:


mosque and text


And a poster for the Mid-Residency exhibition:


mid residency poster


More details on the second series I've been working on at the residency, for an exhibition in George Town (Malaysia), coming up soon.

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5 Responses to Layouts and Landscapes

  1. sharon mceachen says:

    I love the Betel-Nut Island print, I have the urge to learn how to do cyanotype printing. See you in PEK. xxxx

  2. Epiphanie Bloom says:

    Brilliant! Easily one of your best

  3. Naima Rashid says:

    I love the two stages just before the transformation to blue, and how they capture the rich and diverse ethnic collage of Malaysia. More power to dreams and the illusion of infinity. Cheers!

  4. MEB says:

    I saw a photo of the original (FBook), but watching and reading about the process is enough to make anyone stand in awe. I love the 3-D look and the mirror-imaging.

  5. kyh says:

    oh hello! found your blog through migrationology’s comment page. was surprised to know that u’re at usm as am studying here too! :D

    u’re such a talented girl. love all your artworks (and they bring out a different perspective and feel to the local culture here!) :D