April and there's barely a bud on the wisteria which holds up the pergola over the path to the studio, perfect printmaking days in the studio in the run-up to my first Oxford Artweeks.
I love a bit of lino. . . or ply. . . or mdf and happily use any or all to make prints from.
For Oxford Artweeks I concentrated on making books. . . these images from Setting Off are a mix of lino and wood which gives the different textures.
Setting Off results from sketches made of stands of trees on long winter walks along the Wiltshire stretch of the Ridgeway, possibly Britain's oldest road. Metaphors of the woods are written deep in our language, going back into our collective folk traditions, often as places of mystery, menace and threat.
. . . Don't go down to the woods alone.
Hinterland, inspired by walks along the sea-wall in Mersea, observing the constant shifts in mood and light over the strood, and watching birds in flight.
I was so pleased to have a reason to use some hand-marbled paper that I have ferreted away in a drawer. The person who gave it to me told me it was made in the 1930's, I can believe that, as it's quite brittle but it does glue and wrap very happily.
Mapping the Edges, inspired by the sound of Red Kites calling over our garden, quite a heart-rending, mournful sound, which summed up ideas of being alone and the singularity of the human experience.
Meresig grew out of the excitement of spotting curlews while walking along the Essex coast. Curlews are in crisis and we don't have as many in the UK as we once did, I felt very lucky to see them.
It's magical hearing the curlews call late of an evening in Mersea, particularly on a still evening with the sun dipping low on the horizon.
I've taken part in lots of open studio events over the years but never from my studio and rarely on my own. . . it's quite daunting, and of course there is so much to tidy away.
I opened over two weekends plus a day in the week, welcoming many curious and thought-provoking visitors. I don't think I've held an open studio quite like it, topics of conversation ranged far and wide, from process and concept, to literature and learning, to poetry and politics.
Certainly kept me on my toes. . . and I very much enjoyed the experience.
The studio made ready for visitors.