I took myself off to London on Monday, to see Laura Boswell and Ian Phillips exhibiting at the R K Burt gallery. I say exhibiting, but that's far too static a term for two printmakers busy printing on site for the fortnight of the show. I've seen their prints before - Laura Boswell's at her open studio a year or two ago, as well as on a Japanese wood block course in Cumbria, and Ian Phillips' at The Tabernacle Gallery in Machynlleth not so very many weeks ago - but I was interested to see their work together. Their styles feel related - cousins, perhaps? - and seeing their prints side by side reinforced that impression. Perhaps it's not so very surprising, insofar as they're both relief printers, both landscape artists, both influenced by Japanese printmaking. It makes for a very harmonious exhibition, and there's no difficulty telling the artists' work apart. For a start, a lot of Laura Boswell's is japanese wood block - the watercolour nature of the inking is a feature of this printmaking method and could not easily be confused with, say, linocuts, which is Ian Phillips' main medium. Actually, Laura also uses lino, but her range of colours is very different, as are the landscapes she chooses (mostly English, as opposed to mostly Welsh) and, of course, each of the artists has their own distinct style. I find the similarities intriguing, that's all.
The live-action printing that was going on is because they've been collaborating on a print of Cheddar Gorge for the show (gathering on the floor in a corner of the gallery, above), which involves first the japanese wood block background (Laura's) and then a lino foreground (Ian's) which I imagine will take the rest of this second week, as he uses the reduction method. They must be very assured to print in front of visitors. Very clean too - when I think of the mess I make, it would just be an impossible ask. But Japanese wood blocks are inked up with a watercolour and nori combination, and I think Ian uses water based inks. That must help, though even then I can't imagine keeping things clean enough for the centre of a gallery! Still, it definitely attracts attention - I watched passers-by do a double take and go in, even in the short time I was outside.
Another reason for visiting this particular exhibition was, quite simply, that I wanted to see the gallery itself, as I'll be exhibiting here in July as part of a group of artists from Hot Bed Press. It's going to be a good space, with a smaller, comfortable, ground floor room and a larger one downstairs. Both artists were welcoming, informative about their own work, and put up with my questions about the practicalities of exhibiting there with very good humour. Thank you to both of you.
Not being accepted for the Bath Society of Artists' annual exhibition last year made me quieter about trying this time, but it didn't stop me going for it. The queue was very much shorter, which was appreciated (it can be a long wait), and this year I've made it back in! I do hope that the shorter queue doesn't mean that so few people applied that everyone was accepted (I want to have been good enough to be accepted, not just not poor enough to be rejected) but whatever, I'm very pleased to be in the show. I doubt I'll make it to the opening, but I'm looking forward to visiting later on.
on the coast; oh everything, really. Just because I hadn't expected anything at all. And the journey just flew by - not a slog at all.
Cheerfulness notwithstanding, it was still drizzly in Ulverston, so it was a relief to make it to the Printfest and be out of the damp. Printfest was more or less exactly as I remembered it from last year - a faintly chaotic layout (which is attractive but a problem insofar as you're never sure you've seen everything) and (from my point of view) a fidgety lack of space. If you stop, anywhere, you're blocking someone from seeing, blocking someone from moving on. I was on the Hot Bed Press stand for a day at the Hepworth Print Fair, back in April? March? That probably spoiled me somewhat, in that the space there was very generous. Still, just a minor quibble really - the space is what it is,and that's fine.
Printmakerwise, a few of the same names as last year, though not as many as I thought there might be. I didn't look in advance, this time - I'm not convinced it helps. A whole range of printmaking methods, as you might expect, and I really liked some work, quite liked some more, was pretty unconvinced by the rest - again, as you might expect at any such event. Fouzia Zafar (I think she's been nominated this year's Printmakers' Printmaker) showed very large and therefore quite dramatic work which I never managed to look at properly. Don't quite know why, because it looked fantastic, but maybe the size of the pieces meant I could stand back and still see. The crowdiness (it should be a word) of the place did mean that I felt rather overwhelmed at times and happy to drift past. Still, my loss, I suspect. Annwyn Dean's work I already know and love from numerous artists' book fairs, and yes, I did end up with a little something. What can I say? I'm a spendthrift - to go home empty handed would be unthinkable. I also acquired one of Alexander McIntosh's forest prints - this particular strand of his work seemed familiar, and I'm wondering now if he's ever taken part in the 20:20. Martin Mitchell produces the most amazingly skilled work - I would have assumed they were engravings, but (since his email address incorporates the word mezzotint) I think not. The prints he had there didn't appeal to me as much as I felt they should, but I was very admiring of the work that had gone into them and would be happy to spend a long time appreciating them nonetheless.
Who else? Who else? I thought I would be able to identify the work and therefore the printmakers I liked from the catalogue, but I'm finding that a lot more difficult than I expected. Emerson Mayes (for his drawing skills), Anja Percival (for light, as ever, but there were some line-based prints in her browser that I liked too), Heike Roesel (can't quite pin down why, but they were somehow cheerful and I liked that), others I'm sure but I can't identify them definitely so they must remain unsung, today at least.
So an enjoyable printfest and an enjoyable trip. I need to spend a longer (and drier) day in South Cumbria soon. Before it's summer, is I suppose what I mean. Once all the trees are in full leaf, I find the world closes in rather - we were in North Wales with friends yesterday, and taking a walk down one of the local lanes. The verges are filled to bursting with spring flowers, but the woods are still mostly a lace of branch and light, and that makes everything so much brighter.
And then there's the ospreys. I can't miss an opportunity to see ospreys. So I need to go back soon, very soon.
I make prints and book arts, though nowhere near as often as I'd like - no good reason, just an inability to get on with things. I occasionally go on about landscape (with which I am mildly obsessed) and various of its elements, and I like to pass comment on exhibitions I visit.