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Print (MA)

Alba Urquia

Alba Urquia (Barcelona,1997) received a BA(Hons) from the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, in 2019. She first learnt about printmaking processes at LCC and trained to become a technician in print. She was awarded a Pilar Juncosa and Sotheby's grant to work at the printmaking workshops of Joan Miró in Mallorca in 2019.

She became a key holder at Thames-Side Print Studio in 2021 and has exhibited across the UK since. Urquia's work has been shown at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair (2021 and 2022), ASC Gallery (2023), Southwark Park Galleries (2022 and 2023), Fen Ditton Gallery (2023) in Cambridge shortlisted for the Contemporary Print Prize, at Spike Gallery in Bristol (2022), Pump House Gallery (2021) and AMP Studios (2020-2021).

Urquia presented her academic paper 'Bread, Print and Freedom' at IMPACT 12 (2022), an international printmaker's conference organised by the University of West England, Bristol. She has also attended Taller La Madriguera which is an artist residency in Barcelona in 2021 and 2022.

Degree Details

School of Arts & HumanitiesPrint (MA)RCA2023 at Truman Brewery

Truman Brewery, F Block, Ground, first and second floors

Urquia during the production of her largest boulder for the installation "A face that toils so close to stones"

My work explores matters related to existentialism and identity, the absurd, and the human condition. In a nutshell: who we are and why we are (here). 

In my practice process and concept go hand in hand and I believe that the making is as relevant as the finished piece. Lengthy processes give me time to shape ideas, repetition allows me to explore the absurdity of our existence and working three-dimensionally helps me reflect the gravity of our condition. All in all, I am a printmaker convinced that spending enough time with limestones, will eventually turn me into one.

My recent body of work has been influenced majorly by Albert Camus’ interpretation of the Myth of Sisyphus, Jean-Paul Sartre's ideas on the transcendence of our being, and the body-mind dilemma.

"A face that toils so close to stones, is already stone itself."

This quote by Camus has been fundamental to articulate the body of work that I developed during my last year at the RCA.

Group of four boulders of different sizes spread on the floor. One red, one blue and two with lithographs on their surface.

Mimicking Sisyphus perpetual struggle to push a rock uphill, I strived to make a boulder my size. Each iteration was an attempt to reach my own top of the hill, that is why I regard each "boulder" as an "ascension" followed by a number -the times I tried to build one-.

The making process became a performance of what it takes to become stone myself, experimenting with different materials, finishes and scale each time. This body of work is a never-ending piece, a lifetime work in progress, just like Sisyphus eternal punishment, there are endless attempts, and due to its performatic nature, it might never be completed.

Blue boulder with carborundum texture
Ascension I
Close up of Ascension I
Small boulder with a lithograph of a bottom belly glued on its surface
Ascension II
Close of of Ascension II
Close up of Ascension II
Ascension IV, a carborundum boulder of 60cm in diameter with lithographs of body parts on its surface
Ascension IV
Ascension IV, a boulder with raw carborundum and lithographs on its surface
Close up of the surface of Ascension IV, a boulder that has lithographs on its surface that have been teared off.
Red boulder with a carborundum surface textur
Ascension V
Close up of Ascension V, red carborundum boulder
Group of three boulders, one with carborundum, one red and one blue


Paper maché, expanding foam, carborundum, pva, acrylic paint and lithographs on Japanese paper.


20 to 150cm in diameter
18 stone lithographs of different sizes depicting different body parts

This collection of lithographs completes the boulders created for "A face that toils so close to stones...".

Once again the repetition of a -perhaps- absurd task, and physically demanding process brings me closer to this transmutation. When transferring the body parts to the surface of the stone, the skin becomes that of the limestone. Lithographic reticulations and a grainy grease-attracting areas are the new epidermis. I am that which I do: my hands get shaped by the irregular contour of each limestone, my back hurts from bowing to the stone, my legs get sturdy after all the graining, and my arms are constantly soar, like a latent indicator that the transmutation is about to take place.

How much time do I have before I become stone myself?

Lithographs depicting close ups of different parts of the body
Three different irregularly shaped small pieces of limestone with an image transfer of 1 foot, 1 fist and 1 chin.
“One sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over, one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay covered mass, the foot wedging it the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands.(...) A face that toils so close to stone is already stone itself”

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

5 different prints with irregular edges showing two feet, a profile face, a bottom belly and a chin.
Stones nº 3 / 10 / 15 / 21 / 22
Lithograph showing two hands holding each other
Stone nº 13
Lithograph showing a butt
Stone nº 9
Lithograph showing a fist
Stone nº 20
Lithograph showing an ear full of piercings seen from a profile
Stone nº16
Lithograph showing a close up of an eye and nose from a profile
Stone nº 19


Stone lithographs


11 x 9cm (smallest), 76x56cm (largest)
Jesmonite box with a roll of Japanese text inside it

This artefact consists of a Jesmonite box with an engraved title in its lid that reads "how I became who I am", and 10 meters of typewritten Kitakata paper.

The text is a journal of my transmutation into stone in the shape of an ancient worn out object containing primordial knowledge. It describes the steps I take to create the boulders for "A face that toils so close to stones" and the lithographs for "Is already stone itself" in addition to the reflections I came up with during the making process. Writing this publication served me to monitor my progress as well as how I endured such physical work, my commitment to the medium and each stage of the transmutation. I believe it narrates who I am, in as much as how those tasks shaped me the way I am now. In a nutshell: the narration of a stone's erosion through time.

Edition of 5

Jesmonite text with its lid on
Roll of 10 meters of Kitakata paper
Roll of Kitakata paper outside the Jesmonite box, with its lid leaning against it
“By the end of this journey, I will have spent so much time with the limestone, that I will resemble one. My hands, and arms will be a portrait of my endurance, as it will be reflected on my face and my back, and the strong feet that supported me. I will proof once again, my life-time commitment to the medium and to the printing press. I will become that which I do. I am my struggle, I am stone myself.”

Fragment of "How I became who I am"

Typewritten roll of text inside a Jesmonite box
“By the end of this journey, I will have spent so much time with the limestone, that I will resemble one. My hands, and arms will be a portrait of my endurance, as it will be reflected on my face and my back, and the strong feet that supported me. I will proof once again, my life-time commitment to the medium and to the printing press. I will become that which I do. I am my struggle, I am stone myself.” Fragment of 'How I became who I am'


Jesmonite box and 10 meters of typewritten Kitakata roll


15 x 10 x 9cm
Diptych of lithographs on Kitakata paper finished by hand with gouache

This diptych symbolises the universal relation between one and one's own existence. The circle represents the struggle inherent to human condition: to exist and find meaning to existence. It is depicted as a circle in an attempt to mimic Sisyphus' rock, which is used in the myth as a metaphor of the struggle.

In the first print, the struggle is bigger than the entity, the individual is completely overtaken by the weight of its own condition.

In the second print, the entity is physically over the struggle, it has come to terms with the nature of their relation: the struggle is fundamental to its existence, one simply needs to live with it.

Lithograph depicting a humanoid entity laying with its feet up and embracing a colour circle in the middle
It took me a while to be who I am...110x75cm Algraphy and goauche on Kitakata paper
Lithograph depicting a humanoid entity bending face down and pointing at a colour circle in the middle
...But I am110 x 75cm Algraphy and gouache on Kitakata paper


Algraphy and gouache


110x75cm each
A lithograph of an entity embracing an orange sphere in the middle of the print

This print initiated the body of work that explores the relation between the human condition and its meaning. The circle symbolises Sisyphus' rock, a metaphor used in the myth to talk about the struggle that it is to exist.

“I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step towards the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks towards the laris of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.” - 'The Myth of Sisyphus' by A. Camus

This quote describing Sisyphus' descent is nothing else but the realisation that the struggle is fundamental to existence, that there is not one without the other. Accepting this condition and mutual dependency is the only way out.

Close up of the print showing the textures of the algraphy
Close up of the print
Lithograph depicting an entity holding a sphere in blue


Algraphy and chine collé


45 x 36
7 miniature ceramic vessels from which colourful polymer clay entities stick ou

These ceramics are the conclusive piece of the Body as Vessel, a body of work that I developed during my first year at the RCA where I explored the "vessel" as a metaphor of the body considered in phenomenology a tool to explore and interact the material world around us.

Existence is illusory or it is eternal. 

This quote by Camus proposes two ways to understand existence as we know it -in a physical realm-: a shared illusion, a visual trick upon which we all agreed, or a temporal stage of an immortal condition.

Three ceramics vessels from which two entities and a foot stick out
Ceramic vessel from which an entity with horns sticks out on a black background
Close up of vessels and entities sticking out of them


Ceramics and polymer clay


7cm high (smallest), 22cm high (largest)
Close up of the photopolymer plate
I'm being forgotten

What happens when consciousness transcends?

Vessels are left behind, in the physical realm -they are of no use anymore.

Deprived of consciousness, even its still life nature will succumb

to the erosion of the centuries.

Messengers of primordial knowledge,

and individual experience,

vehicles to access the world at hand,

witnesses of an existence,

covered in pebbles, dust and sand

for however long this may stand.

close up of the vessel surrounded by pebbles
Close up of the vessel covered in white fingerprints
Photopolymer print in black and white on paper showing a vessel with white fingerprints over a reticulous sky.
When I'll Transcend


Photopolymer print on Somerset Satin paper


40 x 30 cm