Being an artist can be a solitary life, but in the last year I have hugely enjoyed being a part of Bound:Unbound – a group of artists who make artist books based here in Scotland. This collective meets regularly to discuss the scope of the artist book, and to plan exhibitions, collaborations and commissions.
I have this scroll book in the current Tides Changing I Changing Tides exhibition with the SSA. Originally planned as a “real” exhibition, it is now to be found in its digital format via the SSA website viewing room
It is my response to the Haar (sea mist) which rolled over Edinburgh in the early days of the Coronavirus lockdown. Walking through the mist was like being enveloped in an unknown world. This feeling was heightened by the strangeness of our situation.
Edinburgh is prone to sea mists. They remind us of our proximity to the sea, and that we have little control over the elements, or anything really.
I made this book box for Robert Powell’s current exhibition at the Fine Art Society here in Edinburgh. It’s an absurdly, phantasmagorically, brilliant (too many adjectives?) confection of a show. Do see it – in actuality or online.
I am now accepting commissions for funerary boxes…
Actually, not really
If you happen to be passing through Longmont Colorado, I am taking part in Press and Fold at the Firehouse Art Center. A book arts exhibition focused on the play between ideas of mass-production and unique artistry: artist books made with a variety of printmaking techniques, ranging from the serial to the one-of-a-kind.
The exhibition runs from the 5th of march until the 5th of April 2020 and is part of Mo’Print – the Month of Printmaking Denver – a celebration of the art of making original prints.
I am showing several books, but my favourite is Along the Riverbank. A collection of direct press prints made from plants and seeds collected by the Water of Leith at Dean Village, Edinburgh. They were gathered on the 10th of August 2018, a snapshot in time of a perfect summer’s day. Nice to recall on this frosty morning….
I attached the prints in such a way that they can be laid out folding forwards or backwards, and evenly space or bunched up, to echo the meandering path of a river.
This is a profile of me published on the Edinburgh Printmakers website in January 2020, and here to accompany it, is an image of me gazing soulfully into the middle distance…
What kind of printmaking do you do? Tell us about your work as an artist.
Much of my recent work – both printmaking and artist books – has been inspired by photography, particularly old, found images. Some of my work references photographic images directly, the rest is more oblique.
I have a large collection of found photographs and they fascinate me because, while supposedly permanent records, the identity of their subjects and the associated memories have often been lost. So, what are they permanent records of – lost memories? Also, in printmaking there is an echo of the repetitive nature of photographic production: a unique moment that can be reproduced many times.
I work in monotype and occasionally in etching and plate lithography. I love to experiment in the studio and monotype is a wonderfully spontaneous medium for exploration. The scope for texture and mark-making is infinite – every time I make a monotype I discover something new. Sometimes I get so caught up in the process that I forget what I was originally supposed to be doing.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on an artist book. It is a small pocket book with six images tucked into the pockets. The images are a mixture of monotypes and photographs reproduced as plate lithographs. The inspiration behind the book is twofold; a set of photographs of an unknown Russian child, and a quote by the poet Anna Akhmatova.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love looking at very early photography and am particularly drawn to Daguerrotypes where the plates have been partially eroded by time. There is something so poignant about these ghostly images.
What is your favourite piece of printmaking?
I don’t have a favourite print – that’s too difficult a question, but – off the top of my head – I love the work of Susan Derges, Victoria Ahrens, Hiroshi Senju, Callum Innes and Susie Wilson, to name a few.
Tell us about what you do when you are not making art?
Work-wise, I take on paper conservation and box-making commissions, particularly for book collectors, but you’ll also see me in the studio from time to time on duty as a technician.
To relax, I love making books for friends. I’m also an avid reader, walker and cinema enthusiast; I love a good art house film, the more obscure and esoteric, the better.
Also, I have three children. One is still at home, the other two live in London. I try to see them as often as possible, if I don’t I start getting a bit twitchy – I’m not sure how they feel.
How long have you been a member for?
I joined the studio about 7 years ago, although it took a couple of years for me to become a regular.
What’s your favourite memory at Edinburgh Printmakers?
There isn’t one particular moment that stands out but, in the early days here it was the gradual realisation of what a friendly and supportive place this is. It’s also a place where I can indulge my inner print-making geek and no-one minds, maybe, they even get what I’m talking about….
What do you think of the new studio at Castle Mills.
I love the new studio, it’s a wonderfully light, airy space and a pleasure to work in. The building is outstanding, but EP is really about the fellow members and technicians. They make the place what it is.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
the Utopia:What’s Yours exhibition in Kirkcudbright, again with the SSA.
This spring I’ll be taking part in a show celebrating printmakers who make artist books in
Colorado, as part of Mo’Print Denver.