Medium: Chine collé/letterpress
Paper size: 50 x 63 cm
Image size: 29 x 42 cm
Edition size: 30
In 2007 Oltmann was invited to participate in an exhibition titled Skin to Skin (Kaunas Textile Biennale, curated by Fiona Kirkwood) under the sub section “Skin and sexual relations”, addressing the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. The artwork he made for this exhibition was of a skeletal pregnant mother and her baby. It was woven in fine wire to resemble lacework that could be read as permeable ‘skin’, suggesting the insecure barrier between an HIV infected mother and her unborn. “I wanted to convey the qualities of intimacy and fragility that lace holds in rendering the figures in fine wire weaving. The human skeleton and skull are emotionally loaded images, and the skull of a child even more so. The iconography of mother and child is central to art history across many cultures and in the interpretation of this theme one usually expects sentiment. In these works I aim to counter the sentimental reading of a mother and child, hence the skeletons. “It is an “x-ray” line, the transparent fine wire weave has an x-ray quality to it and allows me to present the internal structures of a figure."
In the four letterpress prints Oltmann depicts three child skulls and an image of a baby. The lacelike quality of the images recalls domestic doily and knitted craft work. The fragility of babies and small children is affectionately captured by Walter in these beautiful prints.