nicholas nicola etchings

2020 ETCHINGS   

These first etchings for 2020 were actually initiated towards the tail end of last year; yet as they have finally been printed up in 2020 these images end up on this webpage. This webpage is certainly yet another one that is a work in progress. Thank you.

Prints thus far:

Creation Cycle (series

[Please press on each square image box of the print for it to expand to see the whole image. Thank you. This is not the case for other supporting images/photographs].



 A series of seven etchings with each etching made up of six moveable separate plates. Overall size of each final print of each of one of these seven etchings is: 9cm X 30cm. With two colour schemes in use: Three rectangles are B&W while another three rectangles are sepia. aquatint. sugar lift. copperplate. 

 Here below are two versions of the Creation Cycle. One on the left is against a black background which is for the purposes of this digital viewing; while the one on the right is against a white background as the images are actually printed on white printmaking paper. However, the black is still valid in the same as it is possible to use black mounting board when framing the whole series. However, appropriate to show both versions. I must admit I find the creation series on a black background rather striking so have kept it up for others to view. All the best.


 An essay is in the process of being written in relation to this print of which the following is only the first section; there will be much more to come & when the full essay is completed it will be posted. it should also noted that although there are many ancient legends of a similar theme there is an initial focus on Christ as, no matter if one is a believer, agnostic or atheist the Gospel story is perhaps one of the most well known examples of the Hero Cycle involving a journey  to the Underworld then to successfully Return. 

 Other points to be looked at in manner of human perception is to include the crisis between Galileo and The Roman Church which it is argued by the likes of Arthur Koestler created a false dichotomy between faith and science when there is real no need for it to exist or to at least be not so polarising; Descartes who looks at mind/body bringing up other notions of human perception as so popularised in the 20th century movie the Matrix. While Jasper Johns the American artist who became famous with American Flag also looks at the idea of human perception - including quantum theory - and he may also be mentioned this essay.  There can also be mention of early Ancient Greek philosophers such as those grouped as the Pre-Socratics etc. (includes the likes of Heraclitus who once famously said: 'Character is Destiny').  

 Furthermore the notion of writing in cuneiform may also be looked at as these separate plates joined together and with different colour schemes can be used to portray different ideas and meanings and this maybe further explored with this same six copper etching plates in a different series.*

  It is interesting to note that the same patterns for the Creation Cycle have turned out to be the same whether it is in clockwise motion or counterclockwise motion which has led to an analysis of perception between what the mind intellectually processes and interprets with what the eye actually sees and visualises. 

 Thank you.

*There is also the hope of doing a series based on Homer's Trojan War using separately produced plates to explore creating a visually symbolic  narrative. 



The Creation Cycle involves seven prints which are each made of six individual copper etching plates placed and moved around in different order using a black & white colour scheme for three of the etching plates & a sepia colour scheme for the other three etching plates. 


 The Creation Cycle was initially thought of as a visual reflection of the creation of the universe and earth as stated in Genesis from the Hebrew Old Testament. The use of six plates can be seen as a reference to the actual six days of creation while there being seven prints in the overall schema can be seen as referencing the seven days that actually exist in the ‘creation week’ with the seventh day being the Creator’s day of rest after the completion of the cosmos and all within it including the Earth.  


 Yet the Creation Cycle can – by universal extension - be seen as representative of the creation themes which historically, spiritually and culturally run through every human society. 


  In this visual case there is also the cosmic notion of regeneration which is also a universal theme in human societies. The triune brown-sepia lighter colour bar that is at the top of the first print can be seen as intimating the original divine ‘light’ [day] that is commonly used as a descriptive of the source of creation; while the triune black bar below can be interpreted as the void or darkness [night] upon which the light enters – or impregnates – into to paradoxically bring about from such a spiritual impetus all material form into what is an original nothingness.


 As for the linear criss-cross pattern of each etching plate this is the sourced from earlier prints [e.g. Synapse of the Universe] whereby it was artistically envisaged to view the synapses of the universe that that one may wish to envisage on a philosophical level ‘formulate’ the cosmos. [Also see below].


 Yet, it should be admitted that – on visual terms – a pattern allows for some sensory satisfaction for the human eye while the human mind is to be sparked into initiating itself upon a mental sojourn so as to gain some understanding as to the underlying creation and regeneration principles that this seven print schema is hopefully attempting to represent.


 On the matter of regeneration: it can be seen that after the first day/night print that the overall schema moves along in a clockwise direction to finally arrive at the fourth print which has night as the top bar and with day below it; the cycle then moves along in the next two prints in a counter-clockwise way to again reach the original day/night schema. It obviously reflects the ongoing passage of time on earth with day going into night and back into day and so forth; while in celestial terms there is the actual elliptical revolution of the earth around the sun with its seasons – mainly referencing the general idea of warmer and colder climes which have to do with growth and hibernation and which also relate to life and death. In many cultures both the summer and winter solstice are of equal significance and in a Neolithic structure as Stonehenge it serves the dual purpose of aligning itself with both of this significant celestial events. Yet, in mythical terms there is the common narrative of the hero’s journey which has to descend to the underworld and then return from it so as to be representative of the ongoing human [and divine] need for transformation and renewal. In Christian terms there is Jesus Christ who after the crucifixion there is the ‘harrowing of hell’ before resurrection into a new spiritual body that overcomes death and that is no longer limited by the physical bounds of this material world. Eternity ascends mortality. There are many ancient myths that follow the same regenerative narrative and, of course, it is argued that the more familiar Christian spiritual principle of ‘life from death’ emerged from older hero myth templates; while there is even the case of Homer’s Odysseus who as a living mortal on his ten-year journey back from the Trojan War also visited Hades which was necessarily initiated before his eventual victorious return to his his homeland Ithaca. All that Odysseus seemed to be facing was certain defeat, yet due to his single minded character all obstacles were defeated, even when he had to face up to the opposing force of the sea god Poseidon. Yet, even Poseidon knew that no matter how much of a hindrance he could be [ Poseidon was angered by the blinding injury inflicted on his son the Cyclops by Odysseus thus initiating his hostility] that as it was sanctioned by Zeus that Odysseus’s fate would be to eventually return to Ithaca that the Christian can also hope that no matter what tribulations lie in the way that there is also the hope that life will eventually overcome death as was the case with Jesus Christ. The human hope that regeneration can always be sought after tragedy is a lingering motivation to pursue a positive belief in a restorative future both in this life and in an after-life. 

  Nevertheless, the counterpoint to myth is reality and this involves in the modern setting the dichotomy* that now commonly exists between religion and science and which is ultimately reflected in the question: what is truth…?  



1. Footnote in relation to the notion of a dichotomy between religion and science regarding here the dispute between Galileo and the Church:


*A false dichotomy according to Arthur Koestler in The Sleepwalkers which he argues was only encouraged by Galileo who was belligerently defending himself against the Church in regards to the astronomical claim that the Sun – rather than the Earth – was at the centre of the then known solar system – in other words Copernicus’s heliocentric view of the Solar System that the Church had not yet made a point of friction or to publicly dispute as long as the ultimate authority of the Church was in turn not undermined or challenged by any scientific discovery; in fact, increasing astronomical research had led to better star maps which was essential for improving navigation and therefore trade. There has been the criticism that Koestler has unfairly penned an unflattering, egotistical version of Galileo who it is claimed manufactured an unnecessary squabble with the Church by actually proclaiming the ascendancy of scientific reason over theological speculation; when it was clear that biblical errors existed pertaining that the Earth was obviously not in the centre of the Solar System. It seems in Koestler’s view Galileo could have been diplomatic and allowed the possibility of the Church to integrate the heliocentric view of the Solar System on its terms so as to maintain its authority; after all, there were many within the Church who took a keen interest in scientific knowledge and were sensible enough to incorporate new discoveries without upsetting the fine balance that needed to exist between science and religion.  There was the Augustine view within the Church that saw to it that human observation of the natural world can actually complement what is understood as divine revelation and although what is written down as ‘Holy Word’ is to be afforded a literal reading other avenues of theological meaning can be deduced as well such as allegorical and so forth but a an irreconcilable division between faith and reason did not exist in Augustine’s outlook but rather were two aspects of the human psyche that were actually complimentary. In regards to issues astronomical Augustus was of the view that the workings of the heavenly bodies were of secondary importance to the writers of God’s Word whose main interest was in directing human interest towards salvation which was only possible by submitting to Christ. If there is any difference between science and religion it is that the knowledge each wish to emphasises has a different purpose (a) science is interested in discerning how the Creation works while the religious emphasis is in recognizing that the world, the universe and all that exists is here because it was created by God who has also divinely set out ways in which humanity is to both perceive the Creation from God’s point of view and how to behave within the creation from God’s point of view. Yet, it seems in medieval times that both the inquiring naturalist aspirations of science and the religious aim to adhere to and uphold divine will could remain complementary to each other as long as the ultimate authority of the Holy Bible was not deliberately undermined by any scientific discovery. 

  Thus an alternative view of the Universe could be spoken about as long as it was understood to be a ‘hypothesis’ rather than a fact. Although unsatisfactory on a scientific level – after all the ‘hypothetical’ observations of Copernicus aided sea navigation so his discoveries certainly served an important practical purpose which would deem them more credence than merely being theoretical. Although it was said Copernicus’s solar system was mainly espoused in mathematical terms which seemed to be a specialist knowledge that was beyond the comprehension or interest of most people; thus for a long time what was seen as obscure was thus not seen as a major public challenge to the Church’s general adoption of Aristotle’s view of the universe further predicated by the argument that what was a mathematical model did not really reflect what was actual in the physical world. 



In reference to another etching: Dark Matter Nebula. [ 6” X 4”. sepia. aquatint. sugarlift. zinc plate & therefore also corresponding to it: Ghost Nebula. 
6” X 4”. B&W. aquatint. sugarlift. zinc plate. See both images directly below] an article on this website relating to Jasper Johns:

Due to some incomprehensible technical difficulty the link will probably not work so please copy & paste into search bar. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


B&W. 8" X 12" drypoint. copperplate. 


 One personally appreciates a rather strong calligraphic quality to this print; what is depicted is actually the burnt charcoal remains of a tree trunk photographed on a Hawkesbury River walk from several years ago. However, by sheer coincidence or perhaps of the zeitgeist it was formulated, prepared and printed around the same time as the Australian Bushfire Disaster was approaching the first of its peaks over December-January 2019/2020 which tragically expressed the full ramifications of the climate emergency that has befallen Australia which along with much damage and death to Australian dwellings and people; there have been megafires extinguishing vast areas of bushland as well as horrendously obliterating the lives of many native animals - up to a billion according to some estimates - with their wild habitats also wiped out. This print was not done in direct reference to this natural and political disaster but it was in the back of mind when finally produced. [I have previously done a smaller but more detailed etching titled Burnt Soul which can be seen in the Australian etchings 2012 webpage]. 

  It is interesting to note that early Ancient Greek philosophers such as Heraclitus perceived the soul as having the feature of fire and also of being eternal. 
 Actually, as another aside with Homer's epics psyche was 'life' or 'breath' which left the body through the mouth at the moment of death to go and migrate to the world of the dead. Psyche would become soul and be as an opposite to the body [as soma] with the body to be eventually viewed as a prison of the soul which would find its release at the point of death and is an idea further explored by the likes of Socrates and thus be taken up as a staple of Platonic [and later Neo-Platonic - think of Michelangelo's Slaves series which in part reflect the soul finding release from the body] thought.

  Well, with such ancient philosophical enquiry on one's mind to reflect upon there were many titles thought of for this etching such as Fallen Angel...Burnt Soul...Burnt Angel and so forth etc etc... However, perusing one day through a 'work-in-progress' - L.I.S.A*  - with some interest I found the following passage [which actually references major bushfires in 1994 [& now that I think about it also in the early early 2000s] and hence the title as Lucifer is mentioned. [Apologies for poor layout]:

*The main character Lisa is a combination of three female friends/acquaintances known [but no longer see] from the late 1980s/early 90s one of which was to tragically pass away from AIDS. Lisa to me is somewhat phonetically similar in alliterative terms to Ulysses and the Homeric masterpieces in many ways thematically underpin the whole narrative. 

Interestingly enough that although Michael in this piece is a main character [along with Cat]  Belle  - as in Dante's Beatrice - is only directly involved in the narrative here and perhaps mentioned only a couple of other times in the whole literary piece.

 [It should be noted this particular novel is one of a collection of many writings by the artist/writer of which a full listing will eventually be posted. Some are actually finished while others are still toyed with etc etc & also including musings based on own art as well as further prose, poetry, social, cultural, historical, mythical and political observations, experimental writing etc ]. 


 A Final Circle

Michael slots in a home video to look for a community television scene of a refugee rally attended by him.

The sight of burning trees.
“What’this?” inquires Michael.
“Some old news.” Cat tunes his guitar. “Those are the bushfires which happened when

you went up the north coast to see Lisa.”
well there were also those bushfires soon after ringing around Sydney.” Michael was at

Bilgola beach when the Blue Mountains were ablaze the week after he had returned from visiting Lisa. That weekend he had stayed over at a friends place at Warriewood; the night before he had been at a small gathering of poets and artists at a house in Mona Vale. The host was a humble librarian who was a great poet. It always felt peculiar for Michael to be on the north side of Sydney; it was such foreign territory - almost what he imagined it was like to be overseas - and this time he distinctly remembers the smell of fire in the night air. He had decided next day to go for a little drive before heading home; and at Bilgola he was amazed to see ash in the water. He thought of Gregor who was up at Woodford to help a cousin fireproof’ his house. There had been that walk along the rocks at the southern end of the beach drawing the ash-filled rock pools. The whiff of the fires in the air. To draw Lisas spirit. Lisa as ash. Lisa in the sea. This could be imagined. Lisas disease had contaminated her; like this ash was doing to this natural beauty. Water can cleanse the soul. Cleanse human remains. There is a unity here. A mystery. The ash of nature and human ash united. Making one omnipotent in the sea. For the sea is everywhere.

‘Thus we can be everywhere. Like God is everywhere. God and us together. Life.

Another previous special time in this area: with Belle along the Great North Walk that went all the way to Newcastle. They had taken up the walk from the back of a house in Westleigh where they had visited an aunt of Belles. It had been a tea and scones morning. One of those little really polite social occasions; yet it was all comfortable enough from which Belle and Michael sat on a large sofa from which all this lush bush could be seen through two large patio glass doors. Belle would come up to her aunts place as a child with her parents and they would always go for a long afternoon bushwalk. The light was always very sharp and the temperature – warm but temperate – was also just right, especially when it had been a particularly harsh hot day. The trees would seem to pick up the orange hues of the late afternoon sun on all their leaves and to a child this was magical. Today, the walk would be taken much earlier and it was still very hot. However, with enough shade it would still be pleasant along the track. The aunt had laughed as she said she was too old now for a long walk; so Belle and Michael embarked on their own. There had recently been storms and Belle explained that there had been a number of spot fires due to lightning strikes. After about an hour they came to a point in the track where the way was barred by red and white tape and a sign that warned of falling trees. They had reached a burnt out area. Belle ignored the sign and took Michael to the top of a slight ridge where they got a wonderful view of a large valley. They watched several cockatoos skim across the top of the thick forest. These large birds were striking to see as their bright white bodies stood out brilliantly against the dark green canopy of the bush which was below. Belle knew that they could go down into the valley from where the walk would take on more the feel of a rainforest. When they reached the bottom they could turn back and be at the house for a late afternoon brunch before going home. It was all very much as Belle predicted; however, what remains vivid in Michaels mind was the sudden appearance of a large number of burnt trees. There was a clearing of jagged stumps and many other trees that had been snapped in two with their thin blackened trunks angled to the ground. Fallen angels.” Hed muttered. In this burnt-out heart of the bush there was one large black trunk surrounded by other fallen angels. “Lucifer,” remarked Michael. “We’ve walked from the first circle to the final circle without going through all thats in between.”

“We have our whole lives for that!” laughingly yelled Belle.

1. Photo of which Lucifer is based on and although there has been a slight increase in the contrast the burnt tree did look this dramatic. [Well, it looks very dramatic to me...].

2. 'Burnt Soul'. 6"X4". B&W. suagrlift. aquatint. drypoint. zinc plate. Mougammarra Reserve. Ku-Ring-ai Chase National Park.



B&W. 8" X 12" sugar lift. aquatint. zinc plate. 
'MASSACRE.' was at first meant to reference the Frontier Wars in Australia in which tens of thousands of Aboriginal people were massacred but see the image as tragically far more universal now. Sugartint brushstrokes initially based on the human form & it implies decomposition e.g. of human morality; of actual human victims and their sacred remains; the decomposition of historical truth as well. 

[The actual print has far more contrast than what is depicted in the image above and when technically possible maybe replaced].

I include the following poem [which can also be found in L.I.S.A. ; again the layout could be much improved]:


When you think of ‘mass’ what do you think? Church mass
Mass graves
the human mass

the dark mass within the universe or of the dark mass in our minds or
perhaps there’s
the masses of particles

of physical existence

which makes our huge populations able to wonder about God while looking at the stars and also wonder about God after looking

massacre consider the increase

mass of
a falling object when that

falling object

falling morality



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