Tomorrow is the Ochre Christmas Party, and I am going to present my work from the year-long residency. My proposal was to carry out documentary drawings of the workshops and produce a body of work which celebrates all that the print studio has to offer. I thought it would help to get a sense of perspective by looking at my diary for the year.
I drew Nigel Hills, printing one of his large collagraph prints very early on during the residency, it took me a while to put the sketches into a composition.
On January 19th I left a job I was doing at an FE College. I realised that I couldn’t do the technician part of the job because I wanted the studios to function safely, and there was no budget for maintenance. The teaching I was offered was outside my specialism, and although I can turn my hand to most things, you get to a point in your life where you want to teach and plan the things you are good at and enjoy. I felt sad about leaving because I felt I’d let down the department I was working for, and that I had failed to do the job.
I went for a walk on January 24th with a friend who is a quilter, and I wondered whether I could make some textile work, to explore the exiting techniques I had helped the students with when I was working in the Textiles department as a technician.
On February 9th I spent the day on Jule’s sublimation course, heat pressing onto different fabrics. I got excited about the possibility of heat pressing colour onto neoprene, and then screen printing drawings of the OPA group over the top. At the time we had a brilliant intern called Laura May Spurgeon, who had just finished a Fine Art degree at Falmouth, and was screen printing onto canvas and painting over the images. I hit upon the idea of making aprons for each of the print areas offered by ochre, and set about screen printing spray bottles onto denim.
The first critique we had was on April 10th with Julie Hoyle. It was quite funny to realise that in making work about and for Ochre, that I had slipped back into my comfort zone of screen print. I continued to document the workshops, drawing the Etched Lino class in April, and I had a go at Solar plate Etching with Susie Turner at the beginning of May.
On Jai’s suggestion, I visited AD Colour on May 10th, making 6 drawings and collecting an armful of used screen mesh. I went completely bonkers on the heat press with screen printed images onto mesh, black fabric and neoprene. I started pleating the fabric and then heat pressing it to create a completely nuts frilly transparent apron.
The second critique was with Ruth, who suggested I work onto paper too, and try out some of the other techniques on offer, as well as gain more quotes so that I could use these to illustrate why people love the studio. In September I began Richenda’s Intermediate Lino course, and used some of the drawings I had made at Katherine Jones’ Collagraph workshop. I wasn’t brave enough to make a reduction lino print, but I explored cutting the lino into shapes, and went on to do Gill Jenkin’s Jigsaw Lino course, which I highly recommend.
My last critique was with Mary Branson, she had the fantastic suggestion that I recreate the Ochre table for my exhibition ‘A Year at Ochre’ at the Lightbox in February, complete with chairs, and put my sketchbook on the table. With the aprons hanging up, I will still have gallery space to put up prints or a large textile piece, but it will make people linger, look at the work and absorb the welcoming feeling that pulling up a chair in the studio creates.
In my last few weeks, I was lucky enough to technician at the Exploring Relief workshop given by Jane Stobart and Mustafa Sidiki, it gave me the confidence to print a huge apron-sized plate onto paper. I was also able to attend Mai Osawa’s Introduction to Etching, which gave me the chance to etch some of the characterful chairs in the studio, and made me more confident with intaglio inking methods.
Watch this space as I put together all the work I have created over the year into the exhibition from February 19th at The Lightbox, and June 5th at The Riverhouse Barn in Walton-on -Thames (as part of Surrey Artists Open Studios).