QUESTIONS & ANSWERS FROM ‘LINOCUT LIVES ON’ EXHIBITION 2016
Where do you live / work?
I live in Felixstowe on the Suffolk coast. I work from home in a converted garage. The house once belonged to my grandfathered so I’ve know the house and town all my life.
How did you first get into doing linocuts?
I took the tradition root to Art College by doing a Foundation course first. We got the chance to try all the various disciplines but as soon as I walked into the print room I was hooked. The smell, the prints hanging up to dry, the wonderful antique machinery. . . wonderful stuff!
Did any particular artists inspire you?
Many artists inspire me.I love the work of Eric Ravilious and Paul Nash the most. I’m also hugely inspired by much of the design produced in the UK from the 1920’s to the 50’s – that means anything from books and textiles to advertising and ceramics.
What do you most like about the medium?
I like the way the medium makes you simplify the visual language you use. So your design has to be bold and your colour palette restricted. You often have to think in a different way to find the solution.
What is the hardest thing?
A lot of what makes lino cutting and printing enjoyable also makes it hard and sometimes damn right infuriating! It can be like puzzle solving. Cutting and printing lino can be quite physically taxing especially when printing a large edition. And of course it is extremely time consuming too. Sometimes making that first cut on a new block of lino can be he hardest thing.
Where do you get the ideas for your subjects?
One thing I don’t have trouble with is ideas! I normally have a long list of potential prints. Most of the time they come from my environment. Plants are a love of mine so they are often the catalyst for a new print.
Do you have a linocut ambition?
I’d like to work on a larger scale!
Any good linocut stories?
The first time I picked up a tool and tried to do some cutting I ended up with it stuck in my hand! This was literally in the first seconds. I learnt my lesson – always have your left hand behind the direction you are cutting.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS FROM ‘PRESSING MATTERS’ ARTICLE 2018
When did you first print?
My mum and stepfather worked at a local printers whilst I was growing up. Mum was a guillotine operator and finisher and he was the printer. I would go there after school and I’d often help out. It was a very small printers and I got a real insight into commercial printing right from typesetting and artwork to folding and collating. I had my first hands on experience of printmaking on my foundation art course . There was a lovely print room there and and as soon as I walked in and was hit by the smell of the ink and the antique machinery I was hooked. Etching was the dominant process there. No extractor fans, no health and safety. Mixing the ink from pigment and oil, it was all like alchemy. They had a couple of old Albions and I gravitated to them and the relief printmaking. I managed to stick a tool in my hand on my first go at cutting!
Can you talk a little about your inspiration? What do you do/look for to get you in the mood for a print or sketch?
I’m one of those people who is never short of an idea for a print or illustration. I do have a good imagination but I think a lot of my prints have their roots in something real; a place I’ve been or something I’ve drawn. I have always kept sketch books and I refer to them all the time. So something I’ve drawn from life will often be the starting point for a print.
Have you always had a love of nature?
I don’t think I’m a real nature lover. I don’t like complete wilderness. I’m a gardener (when I have the time) and I think that is quite a different thing. Plants are my thing. They give me immense pleasure. Their structure and their pattern are alway an inspiration.
Can you talk a little about how important the choice of colour is to you in your different works, as they seem to come from quite a retro place?
Interesting that you say that. I’ve grown to love colour but I would say I’m still a black and white girl at heart, like a lot relief printmakers are. I’ve always used a lot of transparent colour in my printing because I like the luminosity it gives and love to over print one colour on another to create a third. I suppose I’m influenced by the gorgeous spot lithographic printing of the past and I’m trying to recreate something like that. I always mix my colours. I never use any ink (apart from black) direct from the tube. I wouldn’t be without my pantone formula guide
How does your relationship with Dan Bugg at Penfold Press and producing prints work?
I send Dan a pencil sketch of the idea I’m proposing. I really value any feed back from him so when it’s ok with Dan then I get started on the artwork. All the artwork is done in my studio in Felixstowe. Once I’ve got all the colour separations worked up to a reasonable level I post the films off to Dan so he can get it on the screens ready for when I visit. I like to spend a couple of days with Dan working on the print and making proofs. We did try doing it completely remotely, emailing photos of proofs and posting films back and forth but I found that very unsatisfying and in the long run more time consuming. Because I’m a printmaker myself I like to be in on the proofing process and for me that’s what makes it a really collaborative process. So it’s completely worth my while travelling up to Yorkshire. Once we’ve proofed the image I might make a few alterations and we might tweak the colours and then it’s down to Dan to do the editioning. We then split the edition between us.
How did you come to work with him?
Dan approached me a couple of years ago. I’d only ever done screen printing in an evening class and at a very basic level. For some reason we never did it at art college.
Who are your printing influences?
I’ve always loved the work of Eric Ravilious and Paul Nash. Their war work the best. I’ve also always loved what is now called ‘mid century’ art and design. Posters of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s are always an inspiration but any form of good design from that era does it for me.
What’s the printing scene like in Felixstowe, and why did you return there?
There is no printing scene. I’m it!!!! I spent 5 years in London establishing myself as an illustrator. To be honest it was hard and although I was getting work I wasn’t earning enough to feel settled and secure in London so when the chance came along for me to move into what had been my grandfathers house in Felixstowe I took it. I knew having the extra space would allow me to start printmaking.
One thing I love about your works is that often they’re not just about the natural world – you also include things like wheelbarrows and metal structures and almost industrial looking things, which make them really successful – are you trying to show and honest version of nature/gardens etc with your prints do you think?
I have to admit I’m a bit of a nerd and I can get quite excited about wire mesh or a bit of corrugated iron! I find these ordinary things can be quite beautiful. I put in my prints what I find visually pleasing and what interests me. By coincidence my prints end up exploring my relationship with plants and the very British passion for gardening.
How much of your work do you devote to linocut – do you prefer that method to others?
I love all forms of printmaking but I made the decision a long while ago that I would focus on linocutting because I wanted to get really proficient at one process. I’ve now become know for my linocuts so when I’m commissioned to do illustration work I tend to be asked to do a linocut. I do love the way linocutting forces you to simplify your visual language. I can so easily be an over fussy artist so I think the lino brings out the best in me.
What sort of printing set up do you have?
I’ve always worked from home. I have a room in the house I use as a studio. All work done there is clean. Then I have my workshop which was the original garage to the house. Over the years I’ve acquired machinery and equipment and made the garage into a better work space although it’s still extremely cold in winter!!I have two proofing presses. My first, a Stephenson Blake, I found in the small ads of a local paper and was free to a good home! The second, a Soldan, I inherited from a printmaker friend when she decided to give up printing.
What are you working on next?
I’m really hoping to start working on a book idea. I hope Dan will want to work with me again so I have a few ideas at the back of my mind for that. And of course there is always edition to do!!!