A new exhibition has recently opened in the Riverside Café Gallery which brings together 5 print makers from Surrey and Hampshire explores the theme of Remembrance. Running through November, Lest We Forget, is an exhibition curated to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War through different interpretations using linocut as a common medium through the pieces. We caught up with 4 of the participants to find our more about their usual practice.
What are you working on at the moment and where do you find ideas for your work?
Cathy Brett: I’m working on a graphic novel, Who Killed JoJo?, and it’s rather an epic undertaking. It’s been gestating for several years and I am finally at a stage where I can pitch it to publishers. The visual ideas and plot grew out of my MA research at UCA Farnham where I explored suspense in visual storytelling. It’s a murder-mystery and whodunit, set in Surrey in the mid-80s.
Jackie Kirk: I usually have a few projects on the go as I’m great at starting a new one before I’ve finished the last so I currently have some linocuts that are awaiting printing. I’m also working on some new Christmas card designs whilst deciding on my next print.
Dorothy Stapleton: A Wood engraving of the River Mole near my flat from walking by the river.
Shirley Stephens: My family Christmas card! Saw some illustrations of food and packaging and thought I can make this seasonal with my own design and graphic message. Ancient and medieval arts and crafts can be an interesting source of ideas.
What medium do you use in your practice and why?
CB: I am a truly multi-media artist. As a commercial artist, I create a lot of work digitally, but the starting point is always traditional media – Lino prints, sketch books, charcoal drawings, pen and ink, acrylic paint, collage, model-making – all scanned and layered in digital outcomes. I use my iPad and Mac just like any other piece of studio equipment.
JK: After years of working with acrylic paints I now only work in linocut. I love the process of cutting out the design and seeing it emerge from the material and the satisfaction when you’ve pulled a successful print at the end of it.
DS: Wood engraving, also collage as it’s not as messy and I can work in a small space.
SS: Linocuts – using oil- based inks. I like the hands-on cutting and printing process and the strong images that can be produced.
What motivates you to make work, who do you believe has influenced your career and inspired you to start?
DS: To make 4 new pieces twice a year for Leatherhead Art Club exhibitions. Also annual open studios.
SS: Motivation – who knows where this comes from? I was introduced to lino printing at school and although I didn’t use this skill for many years it came out in the shape of printing Christmas cards for my family and friends (still do!),then went on to produce mounted and framed prints.. I also attended workshops to learn more techniques and when I retired from my day job I found I had extra time to spend with my lino.
If you could name one, what is your favourite piece of work you have created, and why?
JK: My London Life print. I’ve been working through the alphabet as a point of inspiration for my prints, so when I got to L I couldn’t think of doing anything other than London. I really wanted to capture all the iconic imagery associated with London and it’s become my most popular print to date.
DS: A collage tree made from black print and tea bag tags.
SS: It’s a bit like one’s children I don’t like to have a favourite!
If you can name one, what is your proudest achievement?
CB: Getting a publishing deal with Headline for my first 2 books (Ember Fury and Scarlett Dedd) back in 2008 was amazing. Then getting shortlisted for two prizes this year was pretty awesome too. Sorry, you only asked for one!
DS: Winning the Husquvana Viking competition for a quilt made of dishcloths & waste material, with comments on housework free machined.
SS: I gave a demonstration to an art class at Treloar’s School and College (for disabled children) which stretched me to my limits but was extremely rewarding and humbling.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
CB: My iPad. I have a great app called Art Set Pro which allows me to take my entire art studio with me where ever I go – pencils, charcoal, oil paints, pastels, endless types of paper or canvas – all on a little, handbag-sized device.
JK: My Pfiel cutting tools. It would be hard to make linocuts without them and after trying cheaper tools it has definitely paid off investing in a quality product. They are comfortable to hold, which is helpful when creating intricate designs that take hours to cut.
DS: My little sharp scissors.
SS: My old lap top that plays me radio 4 dramas while I work!
Where is your favourite place to see art?
JK: Whilst there are some wonderful galleries in London, I like to take advantage of those closer to home that offer a great variety of exhibitions, including The Lightbox in Woking and the Watts Gallery’s in Compton which regularly exhibits print makers in their contemporary gallery space.
DS: London Galleries and the Pallant Chichester.
SS: Everywhere and anywhere – usually in unexpected places.
Cathy Brett is an award-winning children’s book illustrator, graphic novelist and image-creator. www.cathybrett.co.uk
Jackie Kirk gained a Masters in Illustration from UCA Farnham and is a print maker based in Woking. www.jackiekirkillustration.co.uk
Dorothy Stapleton was an international quilter for 20 years and now enjoys making prints and collage in her retirement. surreyopenstudios.org.uk/find-a-surrey-artist/?artist=dorothy-stapleton
Shirley Stephens is a Hampshire based printmaker who has participated in the Surrey Artists Open Studio events for over 10 years and enjoys demonstrating and running workshops. www.shirleyannstephens.co.uk
The exhibition also features work by John Bloor, a print designer who experiments with mark making with lino prints and overprinting in screen prints. www.johnbloor.co.uk