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.
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.