How important is your environment when creating your work?
My environment is vital as my work is inspired by plant forms in their native landscape. I walk each day, often making sketches and taking photographs for reference. I’ll also collect natural elements to use as inspiration in the studio. There are a number of locations that I visit repeatedly over the years, making the same, familiar walks. The west coast of Scotland, Speyside in the north east and the north Norfolk coast continue to be the most important landscapes for me in terms of their influence on my work.
Do the seasons influence your work and mood when creating new pieces?
Yes. I’m very drawn to late summer and autumn when flowering plants have ‘gone over’ and their skeletal structure is becoming evident. I also love the bleakness of bare stems and branches and vibrant berries against the windswept winter landscape. In spring I’m inspired by fresh shoots and the starry white of wild garlic flowers. The lushness of summer foliage is less of an inspiration as the plant structures are less defined.
Who or what are your influences?
The work of Ravilious and Bawden both as artists and as designers as I also enjoy having these two strands to my work – my limited-edition prints, watercolours and collages which I exhibit alongside my design work for [fabric and wallpaper company] St Jude’s and other commissions for products and book illustration. I also look at the work of a wide range of printmakers including Piper, Sutherland, Gertrude Hermes, Enid Marx and Barnett Freedman.
Do you have a favourite piece of work?
My favourite piece pretty much changes from day to day. I think, at the moment, my linocut Sollas Sands is important to me as it depicts where the machair vegetation meets the vast expanse of white sand of the beach at Sollas on North Uist. I visited this beautiful island for the first time last year and am returning this summer to spend more time working there. This print has a different quality as I tried to capture the unique quality of this place.
Other than a steam roller, what is the strangest printing method you’ve tried?
Hmm, I think I’m a bit traditional. A wooden spoon which I inherited from my mother was used to burnish my engravings and linocuts for many years before I could invest in a press. I still use a combination of the press and spoon as I like the quality that results.
Are you looking forward to working to a large scale for the Big Steam Print?
Very much. I already enjoy exploiting the contrast in scale between my wood engravings and a screen prints, though creating a linocut on such a large scale will be a real challenge.
Do you know what design you will be printing yet?
I have an image in mind, but I’m not quite ready to divulge.
You use a variety of printmaking techniques, from linocuts to litho. Do you have a favourite?
I develop my prints from my sketchbook and each drawing seems to suit a certain print process. This means that I don’t have a true favourite. Ironically, considering I’m about to make my biggest linocut print ever, I am currently very interested in wood engraving.
Describe the last piece of art you bought, what was it and who was it by?
A watercolour by Emily Sutton of a gondola boatyard in Venice. We had a sneak preview of this while Emily was working on it and couldn’t resist the finished work. It captures the location so spontaneously and acts as a reminder the time we spent in the city.