Category Archives: Postcards from the UK

Postcards from the UK: Tracy Hill at Curve Gallery

“Basement Membrane” by Tracy Hill

OK, so none of us are actually in the UK at this time, but we did get word of Tracy Hill’s new exhibition Maere Panels at Curve Gallery (Liverpool, UK) so we thought we’d share.  You probably remember Tracy’s large-scale hanging prints from her exhibition with Martha Oatway last December (pictured, Left).  As with the prints at WPG, the prints in Maere Panels build upon the use of the map, layering techniques and imagery that “responds directly to the nature of layering and of building surfaces which resonates with the years of history and palimpsest within our landscape.”

This exhibition is up for the Liverpool Biennial, October 20-27, with an Opening Reception that Friday night (the 19th), if you happen to be in the area. Further details at Curve Gallery’s link, above.

Postcards from the UK: Actually a Postcard from DC

Martha Oatway’s report of her time spent with Tracy Hill during Tracy’s residency at Pyramid Atlantic earlier this year:

Tracy Hill printing at Pyramid Atlantic

WPG Artist Member Martha Oatway printing at Pyramid Atlantic

Batter Kemble Park courtesy of Martha Oatway

Tracy Hill, senior printmaking technician at the University of Central Lancashire came to do a 9 day residency at Pyramid Atlantic in early April of this year.  While here, she and I worked on our collaborative show, ‘Field of Vision’ which will be at Washington Printmakers Gallery in December.  We’ve done four out of five walks in Lancashire, UK, our final one will be in September.

During Tracy’s short nine day stay in DC we took our five US walks and recorded our impressions with our cameras.  Back in the PA studios we made quick monotypes of some of the walks to get colors and ideas on paper.  During our first walk at Great Falls the Potomac was so high we couldn’t go out on the island.  A few days later we were able to return and do some rock rubbings of the wonderful textures.

UK artist Tracy Hill taking a rock rubbing during her stay in DC

One of our walks was in Rock Creek Park behind the Social Safeway and Dumbarton Oaks.  A few days after Tracy returned to the UK I went back to take some rubbings from those rocks and was startled when a jogger came out of nowhere in the forest and stopped dead in front of what I was doing.  She must have been shocked to see me with paper taped onto stone with blue painters tape and rubbing a litho crayon over the paper.  ‘Nuts’ must have gone through her mind.

The leaves were just coming out on the trees during Tracy’s visit and she just loved the green of the newly forming leaves.  It’s not a green she’s familiar with in the UK.  The green pollen on the stagnant C & O canal was spectacular.  She kept exclaiming over the greens she saw.  England is green and Lancashire gets so much rain that it’s green all year around so it was interesting to note the difference in greens between the two areas of DC and Lancashire.

Postcards from the UK: Oatway wins student vote!

What did Martha Oatway win?  Read on for her summary, details to come in future postcards!

"Field 6" by Martha Oatway

AA2A stands for Artists Access to Art Colleges and 31 universities around the UK participate in the program with 3 to 4 slots at each university.  Some universities host a sculpture or painting program and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) where I was happened to have a printmaking program for the AA2A.

At the end of the academic year there is a vote for two positions in the AA2A scheme.  Students can vote for the AA2A person they felt offered the most help and mentorship and there is also a public vote.  I co-won the student vote with a person from the University of Northumbria.  One of my AA2A cohorts at UCLan received the most public votes.  This is the third year in a row that UCLan has received this kind of recognition and it says a lot about the staff in the printmaking program there.

From our Spring Newsletter: Field of Vision

We ended last week with a postcard from Martha Oatway in the UK.  Read more about her upcoming December exhibition with UK printmaker Tracey Hill.  The full article can be seen in our Spring Newsletter.

WPG member Martha Oatway and UK printmaker Tracy Hill recently commenced a year-long collaborative printmaking project entitled Field of Vision, born out of a shared passion for walking. The two artists conceived of the collaboration as: “Two printmakers, two different ways of seeing but with one vision – to walk in each other’s respective homeland and respond to those landscapes through print.”

"Moor Walk" by Tracey Hill, monotype, 4x22.5 in, 2010.

Below, Tracy Hill shares a few comments about landscape as subject and inspiration for their work, and their two prints shown here provide a first glimpse of the series. The entire body of work created for Field of Vision will be shown at Washington Printmakers Gallery during December, 2011 and later in the UK. (More information about the artists and comments by Martha Oatway are available in the full article, published in our Spring Newsletter.)

“… In a country that is so densely populated, open space can be hard to find. I am intrigued by those surprising spaces that have been forgotten. Space on the edge of rivers, canals and housing are often pockets of wildness: these areas are not considered on conventional plan maps and yet account for thousands of square miles across Britain.”

Postcards from the UK: Martha’s work from Artlab

Martha Oatway is finishing up her time in the UK and will soon return home to the States.  Be sure to mark your calendars for her tw0-person exhibition with her friend and UK printmaking, Tracey Hill, on view in December.  For now, read on to see how Martha’s art has developed since she’s been across the pond!

Martha pulling a print--the press in this picture is over 100 years old!

My time in the UK is nearly over.  My husband’s job brought us to Preston, UK in July of 2009.  Preston is home to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) which has a student body of 32000, making it one of the largest universities in the UK.

My first year here I joined Artlab, a group of artists from diverse backgrounds and interests that meet for 4 hours on Wednesday nights to explore printmaking.  The printmaking studios at UCLan offer a wide range of facilities for etching, lithography, relief and screen printing.

Plates and prints from Martha Oatway

It was through Artlab that I discovered Artists Access to Art Colleges, something unique to the UK.  The AA2A project provides placement for artists in one of 31 institutions, providing 124 placements nationally.  Each university has a different focus, sculpture, painting, etc.

UCLan has four placements in printmaking.  I was accepted for the 2010/2011 year based on my project proposal which was to bring my US eyes to the UK landscape and make prints that express how I respond to it.

"Mapping the UK" by Martha Oatway

I am fascinated by the layers of living here in the UK.  This island has been inhabited by many peoples over the millennia and many of them have left indelible marks on the land.  A contemporary wheat field could also be home to Bronze Age circular burial barrows.  Sheep graze among stone circles.  There are hundreds of abandoned medieval villages which are only visible via aerial archaeology as they are now fields.

My latest prints are collagraphs layered with etching and paper lithography, sometimes incorporating chine colle.  They are abstract maps and aerial views layering different scales of space.

"Aerial View 10" by Martha Oatway

You can see the prints I’ve made so far this year on my AA2A page where you can also vote for me if you wish.  The winning artists from 2011 will be promoted on the AA2A websites, facebook and twitter pages.

Postcards from the UK: Paul Winstanley

The following is from Martha Oatway, WPG artist and President currently splitting her time between the States and the UK.  Read on about her experiences with the British print scene!

Landscape by Paul Winstanley, image courtesy of the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery

While in London during September 2010 I visited the Alan Cristea Gallery in Cork Street and fell in love with Paul Winstanley’s prints.  The show, “Everybody Thinks This Is Nowhere”  was comprised of new monoprints, watercolors, paintings and a series of etchings he published with the gallery in 2008.

The gallery’s press release describes the show, ” The centrepiece of the show will be a monumental series of 50 hand-painted etched monoprints made at Thumbprint Studio in London. In this series Winstanley took the idea of the landscape image and developed it, making four new plates in sugar-lift aquatint and hand painting each image in different colours. The group will be installed on one wall of the gallery, creating a multi-hued forested panorama.”

Landscape by Paul Winstanley, image courtesy of the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery.

The effect of 36 prints hanging three deep and 9 across the rear wall of the gallery was just breathtaking.   Winstanley used only four sugar lift etching plates but by working both with background color and mixing color on the etching plate he created a series of very different feelings, moods and seasons.  He arrived at the printers with four etching plates and a set of pre-mixed acrylic colors for the backgrounds.  There are two background colors per image, one for the top and one for the bottom.  He then mixed another two colors of ink on the etching plate.

The resulting images create vastly different moods within the prints.  So much so that at times I had to remind myself that there are actually only four etching plates used within the body of work.  The effect of the background color with the ink on the plates can change the time of day or even the time of year.  The quality of the progressive sugar lift etching with its light and dark areas creates great depth.

The Alan Cristea Gallery at 31 & 34 Cork Street in London is a must-visit for any printmaker going to the city.  I’ve been twice now and am a fan, there are always wonderful prints to view.

For more information:  Alan Cristea Gallery Home Page, Paul Winstanley Gallery press release, and the wall of landscapes at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London.

Postcards from the UK III

The following is WPG President Martha Oatway’s write-up on Elizabeth Couzins Scott, one of the artists in the AA2A program Martha introduced us to in her previous postcard.  Exciting side note–Martha is back states side for a short visit and will be at today’s “Thank You Silver Spring” party at the gallery (1-4 pm).  Stop by to say hello and tell her your favorite UK blog contribution!

Liz Couzins Scott with her "Stiched Faces" body of work

The Artists Access to Art College (AA2A) program in the UK provides four professional artists unlimited studio access for two semesters at each university.  I had the privilege to work with three of the AA2A printmaking students at the University of Central Lancashire this past year.

In September last year’s AA2A participants showed their work in the gallery at the university.  I’ve already written about David Henckel, here is Elizabeth Couzins Scott in her own words.

“The AA2A scheme has given me the opportunity to experiment with producing more complex printed surfaces onto fabrics. Having an uninterrupted period of time to think has enabled me to diversify and create a new body of work that would have been impossible at my own studio

close-up of "Stitched Faces"

My current practice has developed from my interest in the symbolic and cultural meaning of consumer culture and contemporary anxieties .There are powerful cultural forces that persuade women to buy into the impossible beauty myth. Our society is consumed with visual images of external female perfecton.It would seem that women from early childhood can be socialized into gender stereotypes for social approval. Cosmetic surgery procedures are being sought by younger and younger women

The interpretation of these themes led me to use a selection of figurative images taken from one glossy fashion magazine which were rearranged, collaged, stitched and applied to dolls faces .The imagery was then printed onto a selection of fabrics like silk organza and transparent polyester using photo silk screen techniques and then layered, bonded and stitched together to produce unsettling images.”

Postcards from the UK II

Below is the 2nd installment of art news from WPG President Martha Oatway, currently splitting her time between the States and the UK.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston participates in a national plan called Artists Access to Art Schools (AA2A) which allows an artist access to studio space for a year and a stipend for materials.  During the past year I’ve had the pleasure of working beside three of the four AA2A printmakers in the printmaking studio.  In September they had a joint show in the Victoria Building gallery, the culmination of their years work. 

Table print by David Henckel

One day during the semester I walked into the classroom and found a desk top inked like a relief plate.  David Henckel noticed something everyone else saw but really didn’t notice:  the scratches and dings in the surface of the desk made by 20+ years of students.  He inked it and printed it.  His print of the gum deposits in front of Victoria Building takes a similar tack.

David Henckel in his own words:

David Henckel

The chewing gum piece and the table print are concerned with the patterns and marks that develop as a result of unconsciously collaborative activity. Both pieces highlight and draw attention to something that is already there. The table print is a direct relief print taken after inking up the table with a litho roller and shows in greater contrast the intricate cuts and scratches that have built up over time from its use as a paper trimming area. It reveals a pattern of activity loosely focused along one edge from when the table was pushed up against the wall.
I like the ambiguity of the finished print and the semi focused randomness of the marks.

Chewing gum deposits painted bright pink by David

I noticed the chewing gum deposits throughout Preston and felt they were similar in nature
to the marks on the table. Diffusion patterns with concentrations of deposits at the entrance way
to buildings or around the trash bins. The 2 screenprints that I made use photographs as a starting point which I’ve then manipulated to leave only a hint of the architecture and the space. The chewing gum which merges with the pavement has been coloured in on another layer and in the prints stands out in stark contrast to the background.

After making the prints I decided I really wanted to paint the actual chewing gum deposits and after a little bit of negotiation and a few blind eyes being turned set about the entrance way to the gallery. Thankfully a good friend volunteered to help me and we painted all the gum in the vicinity a nice bubblegum pink.
Whilst painting the gum, no one tried to stop me and we got a few odd questions including
“What are those pink blobs meant to be?” and “Is that meant to be chewing gum?”

What I originally thought might be far too obvious turned out to be a lot more subtle and with the
onset of Autumn??? already the pink blobs seemed to fit with the leaves.

I’m thinking about a chewing gum film of Preston and the possibility of a musical piece based on the distribution of gum being notes in a sequence.

Postcards from the UK

A few weeks ago WPG President Martha Oatway wrote about the Keith Brown artist talk she saw at ArtLab.  The following post is the start of our new series, Postcards from the UK, written by Martha during her sojourn in the UK.

A view of the printmaking studios at Artlab.

I am half way through a two year stint in Preston, UK.  Preston is in the Northwest of England, east of Blackpool and south of the Lake District.  The city is home to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) which has a student body of over 32,000.  I discovered Artlab which is part of the university’s printmaking department and have had the opportunity to spend a year making friends and making prints.

 ArtLab Contemporary Print Studio provides access to the print workshop for 4 hours on a Wednesday evening from the start of the university fall semester through to the summer break.

Liz Couzins Scott using the Eagle relief press. The press was made in 1856.

Artlab member artists are from a range of backgrounds and disciplines.  For some printmaking is the core of their artistic development and for others the print studio enhances their practice in a different discipline.

The ArtLab Contemporary Print Studio is run by Tracy Griffin Hill and Magda Starwarska-Beavan.  They provide guidance and technical advice on all aspects of printmaking.  Artlab has a wide range of facilities for etching, relief, lithography, silkscreen and digital.

 During the next months I’ll write more about Artlab, the individual artists and their work along with some of the non-toxic etching techniques Tracy Hill practices.