Impressed by the press!

Today I spent the second of my three days as ‘artist in residence’ at Alverton Gallery in Penzance. I was invited to come and print in the gallery by Diana and Tim Wayne, the artist owners. The idea was that a team of printmakers would come and work in the gallery using their fabulous press during the exhibition of printmaking at Penlee House Gallery and Museum. The exhibition is called ‘Edward Bouverie Hoyton (1900 – 1988): Master Etcher’ and focuses on the work of this ‘unsung hero of printmaking’ who was principle of Penzance School of Art from 1941 – 1965.

Hoyton Edward Bouverie - Low Tide St Ives web

Hoyton was born in Lewisham in 1900 and studied printmaking at Goldsmiths College of Art. His contemporaries included Graham Sutherland, Paul Drury, Eric Frazer, Robin Tanner and William Larkins. Collectively known as ‘The Goldsmiths Group’, these artists helped to revive the art of the master etcher, the craft of original hand-made prints that had been largely overtaken by mechanical, mass-production printing methods. Their inspiration was the Nineteenth Century artist Samuel Palmer (1805 – 1881), whose etchings had created a sensation when they were exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1926.

Trevignano

In 1926 Edward was awarded the Prix de Rome. He went on to become a lecturer at Leeds College (1934) before taking up his post as Principal of the Penzance School of Art.

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The Alverton Gallery press used to belong to Edward Bouverie Hoyton and is an absolute beauty. I am one of a series of printmakers that will put the press into action from 18th January until 22nd March 2014. Other printmakers include Claire Benson, Carolle Blackwell, Judy Collins, Delia Delderfield, June Hicks, Ian Laurie, Roy Perry, Morna Rhys, Lee Stevenson, Diana Wayne & Peter Wray.

Today I’ve been printing up some of my mini-prints including ‘Ermine’:

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I’ve also used the opportunity to do some viscosity printing. A method pioneered by Joseph Hayter and also known as ‘The Hayter Method’. The process uses the principle of viscosity to print more than one colour onto a single plate as opposed to using multiple plates and colour separations. Three to four inks are mixed to different viscosities by adding uncooked linseed oil (to oil based inks). Collagraphs can really lend themselves to this method because of the sculptural nature of the plate making but it can be done on etching and aquatint plates too. The printmaker also uses different densities of roller to aid the process. Here are a few examples, I call it ‘bling’ printing 🙂

viscosity printApart from having some lovely company from Tim & Diana and the various visitors to the gallery, I also had a bit of interest from Coco and Fly, the gallery whippets. It’s been raining a lot here in Cornwall and so they were quite happy curled up under the desk all day!

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I’ll be back in the gallery tomorrow and will do some more viscosity printing and also print up some of my other collagraphs. Come in and see me if you are in the area!

 

Time for Some Reflection

The start of a new year invariably signals a time to look back and reflect on what has been before making plans for the year ahead. 2013 was a really good year for me on many levels but I ended it feeling frazzled and burnt out. Working at such an intensity is not good for the soul and it certainly wasn’t good for this blog 🙂 Three months have passed since I wrote anything here. I was swept along on a wave of printing for exhibition deadlines and orders and time to think was severely lacking. It became a standing joke that my boyfriend would text me to say goodnight just as I was about to start printing another collagraph and I now know Sailing By by heart and could probably list all the places covered in the shipping forecast. Where would I be without Radio 4?!

I’ve had a great year though. I took part in 20 exhibitions and events and lost count of the workshops that I taught. I completed my second year of Joan Newall’s bookmaking course and have started my third. I also went on Alice Fox’s rusting workshop and Jane Littlefield’s stained glass workshop. I attended lots of exhibitions and previews and helped to set up a printmakers’ networking group. My prints have sold well and I’ve met some lovely people that have bought them. To my astonishment, one collagraph print proved to really strike a chord with people. I designed ‘The Way Through the Woods’ in April and it was an edition of 50. By October it had totally sold out! I would love to be able to repeat that with another print but you never know what is going to capture people’s imagination and so I’ll just continue to make things from the heart and hope that what makes me tick, will inspire other people too.

The Way Through the Woods

In the months leading up to Christmas I realised that if I want to feel happy and fulfilled in the longterm, I need to rethink how I work. It really isn’t easy to turn down opportunities when you are a full-time artist and even though I only have myself to support, the pressure is on to ensure that I make enough to cover my bills and pay my rent. I also strongly believe that you just don’t know where some of those exhibitions, events etc. might lead and, anyway, I do actually thrive on being busy but perhaps not quite as busy as last year!

2013-08-18 10.26.45(This is from Art in the Pens in Skipton, I hope to be doing it again this year and also one in Carlisle!)

So I’m starting 2014 with a different goal. I’m going to pare down my calender somewhat and give myself plenty of time and headspace for developing ideas. Without that, it is hard to make meaningful work. I’ve organised a lovely programme of workshops with ArtisOn Ltd. and will start that in mid-March and I have a few exhibitions pencilled in my diary that should punctuate the year nicely but mainly I will be working on a body of new work for my exhibition at Inspired By…Gallery in Danby. This takes place in November and continues into 2015. I was invited to show there by Sally Ann Smith of the North York Moors Park Authority and it was a lovely coincidence because I was on the verge of approaching her to apply to exhibit. I’ve asked ceramicist Charlotte Morrison to share the space and together we will be creating work inspired by the national park. We’re calling our show ‘New Ground’ and I’ll be blogging about it from now until the opening as I go out into the field and gather ideas for new work.

041(the tangled birch woods near Gormire)

I’m also returning to Ålgården in Sweden in February. That will really help get the year off to a good start. I invariably find January and February quite hard. My fellrunning prevents me getting such bad SAD symptoms nowadays but motivation can be at a low. I’m being kind to myself this year and have lined up enough workshops to pay my bills and am allowing myself the rest of the time to do whatever comes easily. I’m really enjoying doing a bit of reading and research about printmaking and I’ve had some great networking days already. In fact, I actually feel raring to go!

My next blog post will be about my trip to Cornwall next week when I will be ‘artist in residence’ at Alverton Gallery in Penzance. I’ll spend three days printing in the gallery to coincide with an exhibition of etchings by Edward Bouverie Hoyton at Penlee House and Gallery.

Björk

Well, I’m really pleased that I wrote about my up and down weekend. The response here and on my facebook page has shown that so many artists (and also non-artists) empathised and it has created some worthwhile discussion. Thanks for all the support too. I think it is really important to share the difficult times as well as the good. I also think that it can sometimes be the times when everything seems to be going wrong or hard that actually end up being the most useful and are often turning points.

Anyway, yesterday I stayed all day in the studio and carefully constructed a simple collagraph plate that I hoped would capture more of the atmosphere of the birch forests here.

I worked on it until lunchtime and then had a break to eat with Björn and Kristina before helping take down the Artists in Residency Exhibition from the gallery. Afterwards, Björn made carrot and apple juice for us. Apparently carrots have been unbelievably expensive all year due to the weather making it difficult to grow them. Now they are really cheap so he bought a huge bag for juicing. It was delicious and, after all the coffee that I’ve been drinking, it felt very refreshing and healthy! After he, Christina and Kristina went home I went back to the studio and worked until midnight! The studio was buzzing with activity from the women’s Monday night printmaking group but because I don’t understand any Swedish, I was in a world of my own and the chatter was like background music. I sealed the plate with shellac before I went to bed.

This morning I got up early to go for a run and I put a final coat of shellac on my plate before I went. The forest was misty and very atmospheric and I met a group of woodsmen who stopped to talk to me (in perfect English of course!). I got back to the studio and set to proofing the collagraph.

The sepia is a bit heavy for the subject and I’d always envisaged it in colour so I carefully printed a further three prints using the ‘a la poupee’ method. This print has lost a little of its subtlety in the photographing but I’m quite happy with it in ‘the flesh’.

I’ve got a lot of other ideas and I still have a plate to print that I made over the weekend so things are definitely feeling better.

Two more nice things happened today. The first was that Lennart bought me a box of organic vegetables and bread for my lunch and I was able to make us a winter stew from carrots, leeks, parsnips & swedes with potato patties on the side. The second was that Tim and Diane Wayne from The Alverton Gallery http://www.thealvertongallery.co.uk/ in Penzance called in to see me! My mum lives in Penzance and, as a result, Tim and Diane kindly agreed to stock my prints (it is so hard to get into galleries in Cornwall because there are so many Cornish artists and many galleries only stock work by local artists). I only see Tim and Diane maybe once a year but they just happened to be on holiday in Sweden and they are both printmakers themselves so they couldn’t resist a visit to Ålgården. It was lovely to see them and I was pleased to be able to show them around and introduce them to the Swedish artists here.

Oh yes, and as for the title of today’s post, it is Swedish for silver birch! I also found out that Björn is Swedish for bear. 🙂