Tabula Scalata

Traditional TABULA SCALATA is when artists would paint on a corrugated canvas so that when viewed from 2 different angles, a different image is seen. What I wanted to create was a digital version of tabula scalata consisting of interlacing two images which when printed on paper and then by folding the sections into a 3D work, two different images can then be viewed.

I had the wonderful opportunity to be selected to be part of an exchange exhibition where editioned works created by Canadian and Barbadian artists would simultaneously be displayed in London, Ontario, Canada and in St. George, Barbados. The theme and title of the exhibition was “In Two Places”, organized by Joscelyn Gardener, Chair of Print London. I remembered reading about how back in the late 1500’s an artist created such a work that displayed a queen’s portrait when viewed from one direction and a scull head from the opposite direction. It was referred to as a tabula scalata.

Two views of a tabula scalata oil painting from 1580 in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery / Unknown source / Public Domain

This is what I wanted to create. It perfectly fit how when a person says “I wish I could be in two places at the same time”. I first researched lenticular printing and it’s processes, thinking this would be my path. But due to limited sheet supplies because of Covid, I decided I would pursue working from analogue to digital!

I chose gouache as my choice of wet medium because of it’s opacity and colour quality when digitally scanned. I learned how to lay down the paint using various techniques, dry on dry, wet on dry, and wet on wet. I explored and experimented with colour blocks to see which colours I wanted in my final palettes.

A selection of my gouache colour blocks.

It’s true, with dry on dry they scanned dense and lush! I swatched colours and after building my palettes I then moved forward with creating 20 geometric abstraction works, which were then matched and interlaced and titled according to inspirations.

Three final works were chosen and an edition of 2 each were printed on Awagami Bamboo. A clear acrylic frame was selected and the ones displayed in London, Ontario had the addition of a lovely outer white wooden frame.

I will continue to explore and use gouache as a creative tool in my resource box. Perhaps my next project will be to go from digital to analogue!

I would like to sincerely thank and acknowledge the Ontario Arts Council for their generous funding and support allowing me to move forward with this project.