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Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, 22nd to 25th November

Am excited to be exhibiting at the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, 22nd to 25th  November, and also giving a talk and demonstration on Mezzotinting, which will be both a pleasure and an honour to do.  With over 350 artists and exhibitors involved, the event is the only fair in London to concentrate solely on contemporary printmaking, and the largest of its kind in the UK – taking place in the impressive former carriage factory at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.  The event celebrates every aspect of printmaking from etching and lithography, to screen-printing and woodblock, celebrating the work of newcomers and long established artists alike.  There will be prints for sale as well as interactive demonstrations, workshops, tours and talks – offering visitors of all ages an insight into printmaking.

Mezzotinting demonstration – Wednesday 22nd November at 10:30am

http://www.woolwichprintfair.com/

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SPONTANEITY AND COMPOSITION

A lot of my work is very spontaneous and I really enjoy the freedom this gives me.  I very often start the creative process with a title in mind, rather than an idea of a design or image and I have many titles yet to develop. The process invariably begins with cleaning my palette, sharpening my tools and pencils and rearranging my paper and having a good think – and this is how the process begins.

I make a mark on a piece of canvas or a sheet of paper and let it develop.  With specific commissions however, the process is naturally different.  If asked to replicate an old master for example, I will do hours of research and am ‘contained’ within a particular size of image and mediums used; but I still love this kind of work and thoroughly enjoy the process of identifying the specific method, colours and glazing that would have been used, not to mention how the paint was applied.  I become obsessed with the detail – and this is true of all my work.  Even pieces that look quite ‘free’ will have a calculated method of composition.  Composition is not a conscious thing, but a subconscious thing.  I was told that I had an extreme understanding of composition even as a very young child, and this has certainly stood me in good stead ever since.

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My Printmaking Inspiration

My printmaking inspiration has to be Norman Ackroyd, who I believe to be one of our greatest printmakers.  Norman Ackroyd CBE, RA was born in Leeds, although now lives and works in Bermondsey, London and is known primarily for his aquatint work.  He was awarded a CBE in 2007 for his services to engraving and printing and has exhibited widely all over the world.  He has also been commissioned to produce a number of murals, his most recent completed in 2010 was called ‘Galapagos’, an external mural for the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge for the Study of Plant Development.

Aquatint is a medium I particularly love –  it is an intaglio printmaking technique (a variant of etching) where marks are made on the plate (in this case a copper or zinc plate) that then hold the ink and produce an image not dissimilar in appearance to a watercolour.

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Having favourites…

I was recently asked if I have a favourite artist.  This is an almost impossible question to answer as there are so many different artists and genres I admire, but a pivotal moment for me was when I was given my very first art book when I was seven years old.  It was about Leonardo da Vinci and even from that young age I was completely mesmerised.  I remember being utterly captivated and simply blown away that any person could paint such beautiful images, so if urged to choose a favourite artist, he is certainly at the top of my list, and has been a constant source of inspiration throughout my life.

Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 and is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time – the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and The Vitruvian Man bear testament to his skill.  He was known as a ‘polymath’ – meaning ‘a person of great knowledge’ and among the many and varied subjects he excelled in where science, architecture, music, mathematics, geology, botany, literature, engineering, cartography and anatomy.  One of my favourite mottos is ‘Never turn down the opportunity to learn’ and Leonardo’s works clearly express his voracious hunger for knowledge.

Another artist that I have always admired is Salvador Dali, so you can imagine my delight when I had the chance to visit Catalan and the area he came from a couple of years ago, along with his house in Port Ligat, a small village located in a small bay on the Cap de Creus peninsular.

Salvador Dali was a prominent Spanish surrealist, born in Figueres in 1904 who evoked his dreams and hallucinations in truly unforgettable images.  His fiercely technical and unusual paintings make him one of the most controversial and paradoxical artist of the 20th Century – with The Persistence of Memory, Swans reflecting Elephants, Dream caused by the Flight of a Bee and Metamorphosis of Narcissus just a few of his masterpieces.