Tell me a bit about your background?
I grew up in Coventry, where I stayed to do my art foundation year at the university, before moving up north to Sunderland to do a degree in environmental illustration. The illustration department was above the printmaking studios so I spent a lot of time where I probably shouldn’t have. I loved it here and have never left!
Why does linocutting appeal to you?
I did my first linocut of a duck swimming in about 1994. It wasn’t great (and I probably cut myself more than the lino) but there was something magical about making marks on a surface and not really knowing how they would translate until the surface had been inked and printed. My parents still have that duck framed on the wall. I went on to cut a life-size ostrich for my degree piece, which was eight feet tall and six feet wide. Lino allows me to be brave, making strong marks on paper, and I love using colour in my prints. I use watercolour to create depth and texture that I don’t feel I can get using just inks. It also means every linocut in the edition ends up slightly different, a truly original print.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I’m inspired by my surroundings. I’m very lucky to live in a beautiful part of Cumbria, the Eden Valley, and there are hares, songbirds and sheep aplenty. My husband David is also a sculptor and painter so I think we influence each other. It’s so inspiring to have someone to talk with and bounce ideas around. We work really well together and our work complements each others’. In more recent years, I have chosen subjects because I’m intrigued to see how I can translate them to a linocut. My dogs and seafood have been a real experiment, and I’ve loved trying something new.
Where do you source your materials?
Well I’m known for the paper I often use; a Japanese tissue with gold and silver foil flecks. This is my USP (unique selling point) so I have to keep it a secret! I have always used T.N.Lawrence based in Brighton for my supplies, beautiful rollers with brass fittings, linseed oil inks and my tools which I treasure. I send them off every year or so to be professionally sharpened. I couldn’t do it without them. I have all my work framed in Consett at the wonderful Framehouse, they do a great job even if the tissues I print on drive them mad!
Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
Not at all is the short answer. Living with another artist, two teenagers and a dachshund means there’s nothing typical about any day. I try to get into the studio as often as I can. I print work in batches of four to six, as I now have so many linocuts it’s impossible to print a full edition in one go. I also have a large range of art cards which I self-publish, so some days can be spent organising deliveries of these. Paperwork can be very time-consuming. I’m constantly thinking about new designs for linocuts. This is usually a collection of work on a theme, be it subject or composition.
What’s your favourite piece you’ve worked on?
I love hares, and have used them many times in my work. The latest linocut (‘Wash Day’) is a real departure for me. It’s hand-coloured with watercolour and I frame it by floating the print, so you can see the deckle edge of the paper.
What’s the hardest thing about what you do?
Being disciplined. My studio is in the back garden and we all know there is always something to do at home, so it’s about not being distracted and focusing on work. Also planning events for the year ahead. I love to get out and meet the public at the art and craft fairs I do throughout the year, but it involves a lot of organising and coordinating with childcare and dog-sitting!
What are you currently working on?
My ‘Wash Day’ hare has really excited me and I’m planning a collection of new linocuts with the same feeling of space around them. They will all have watercolour washes. I’m hoping to include a fox, red squirrel, badger, barn owl and mouse for starters.
I’m working on 2019 event planning and a shiny new website with selling platform. I’m hoping to expand the art card collection, currently at just under 80 designs, to over 100 but that means lots of new linocuts, so I’d best get started...