I joined South East Open Studios seven years ago, and I have opened my studio every year since that first entry.
My route in was perhaps circuitous. I hadn’t explored visual art at all as an adult (courtesy of a particularly yelly art teacher at school who convinced me Art isn’t for you if you can’t get it right, Jamie). One holiday, when I hadn’t booked anything to do, it was suggested I go on one of the fantastic short courses Seal Chart Studios put on for printmaking at regular intervals throughout the year. Within five minutes of being at the studio (despite protesting that I couldn’t draw), I was hooked, and printmaking has ever since formed a valve for bleeding the stresses of working in education.
I’m still a printmaker at Seal Chart, and I also work from my home studio where I work more with copper sulphate etching, drypoint and experiment with other plate effects (e.g. salt). I’m captivated by the variations in effect that can be controlled through the use of aquatint, grounds and length of bite in the acid, but it is the element of chance that temperature and microscopic imperfections can cause that fascinates me. There is always a moment in printmaking where preparation must surrender to chance.
The plate for The Settlements(pictured) is one such plate. The original image was created using line etching. The blunt end of an old pair of scissors held intentionally partly open gave the rough effect of the trees (the spirals). The rough texture of the lighter areas of the plate were created by palm prints through a soft ground smeared randomly with Vaseline: this allows chance to protect certain areas and bite in others, with areas of foul bite adding to the texture. Finally, with the light areas protected, the dark areas were subject to open bite in copper sulphate; as the metal was dissolved so waves formed, creating tidal effects (seen most clearly in the top right hand corner).
What inspires me as an artist are different effects and repeated images, and I am fascinated by texture. Clean lines and areas of pure white or pure colour don’t appeal; I like the messy, the textured, the rough. Currently I am starting to explore collagraphs, relief etching and blind embossing, together with increasing my attempts to find different ways of creating texture on zinc plates. In printmaking, the learning does not stop…
Many of the images are illustrative. I am a writer published through Broodcomb Press and use prints for their cover art. The Settlementsis out now at www.broodcomb.co.uk, and future projects are in the pipeline where prints form an integral part of both the narrative and the design.
In July 2017, I took over as chair of SEOS. It’s been an interesting (and challenging) year getting to know the different working parts of the organisation, and it is a learning curve that is not yet completed. There are dozens of factors to take into account, and as with any complex endeavour, there are setbacks that need to be managed and solutions that need to be found. With eight months to go, however, I am already very excited about the 2019 SEOS event, and I hope you want to join us in making 2019 one of our best ever years.