During the first day of scheduled ‘Projects and Demonstrations’ at SGCI, myself and artist Sarah Jane Lawton, based at East London Printmakers, presented our collaborative print project ‘Movement & Gestures’.

Our printmaking intervention presented an opportunity for participants to make and contribute to an evolving printed scroll. The event intended to confront one person with another, connecting individuals without the use of verbal language but simply through woodblock, indigo and paper. This project explores change, impermanence, flux, vulnerability, collaboration and process, with an intention to record the transient moments of shifting experience through printmaking. By inviting observers to become participants in an immersive experience, our hope was to explore and develop a ‘language of gestures’ through a continually changing and ever- growing print.

The choreography of traced movements, mannerisms and sounds contributed to this developing vocabulary of printable marks; a way of connecting observer to participator. Sarah and I have both been developing print tool-kits, independently, through the cultural exchange process, in India and Japan, respectively. This has been underpinned by an experiential methodology, which facilitates growth through ‘making’ and creates cross- cultural dialogues. Sarah has been working to document the gesture and engagement of artisans in Gujarat, North West India and most recently with the dancers of Odisha. I have been exploring Mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock printmaking) as a connective process.

Throughout the day, we invited conference visitors to select a tool (carved Indian or Japanese woodblock), ink up with indigo pigment and make a printed contribution to the scrolls. It was a wonderful experience to create a space in which people could collaborate in gestural marks with one another. We had a steady stream of contributions over the day, each print pass informing and shaping the next.

Each of the woodblocks I had created formed part of a larger collection of gestures, originally made in Japan in the Spring of 2015. As a response to learning the hiragana sounds of the Japanese language, I developed a series of 20 symbols or pictograms from certain hiragana characters to create my own personal kanji. These ‘kanji’ formed my own visual dictionary of words I felt necessary to embed in my memory, as a means to express my thoughts about living in Japan.

The 20 hand stamped drawings were exhibited for the first time at the IMPACT printmaking conference in Hangzhou, China in October 2015 where Sarah and I launched the ‘Language of Gestures’ project at Sanshang Gallery.


During the SGCI conference, some exceptional printmaking was exhibited in spaces and galleries around Portland.  A personal highlight for me was seeing the outstanding experimental letterpress work of John Risseeuw, who received this years’ SGCI Printmaker Emeritus Award. His work, political, thought-provoking, relevant and captivating was also beautifully made. Opening night in the gallery space at PSU (Portland State University) was jam packed with printmakers given the opportunity to get a close up look of his life’s work in print and artist’s books. I found his keynote speech very inspiring and full of humour and modesty.

I had been looking forward to visiting 23 Sandy Gallery, a fine art gallery space in eastside Portland dedicated to presenting local and national artists working in contemporary book and paper arts. The exhibition launching during SGCI, ‘Shift-Lab: Trace’, involved several of my favourite artist’s working in fine print and book arts. Katie Baldwin, based in Alabama and Sarah Bryant, based in Brighton, UK are two artists that continue to inspire my practice. The collaboration of 5 female printmakers that form the ‘Shift-Lab’ collective presented a stunning project entitled ‘Trace’. The prints and book works were exceptionally made and displayed in a way that invited visitors to engage with the work, taking time to carefully handle the prints in an atmosphere that made them accessible. I came away feeling full of ideas about how galleries could encourage the handling of artists’ books in more inspired ways than I have previously seen in the UK.


Arriving in Portland, Oregon for the annual SGCI (Southern Graphics Council International) conference to beautiful sunshine and blue skies was unexpected, due to the city’s mostly reliable reputation of being amongst the most rainy places in the USA.

Thanks to an Artists’ international development fund from the British Council & ACE, myself and artist Sarah Jane Lawton were able to present our ‘Language of Gestures’ collaborative project to the SGCI members at this years conference. The project was launched at last years’ IMPACT International Printmaking Conference in Hangzhou, China, where we presented the collaborative print work at the Sanshang Gallery during the conference. We decided to re-present the project in Portland, this March in the ‘Projects & Demonstrations’ series.

The SGCI conference is a huge event bringing together printmakers from all America and beyond. The schedule over the 4 days is packed with opportunities to see exhibitions across the city, listen to papers and panel discussions, attend demonstrations and collaborate on site specific print projects. We felt extremely pleased to be part of the event and took full advantage of all that was on offer to us as delegates. We took part in the members portfolio print exchange, the mentoring sessions and the open portfolio sessions, giving the opportunity to present our work to fellow printmakers, academics, students and collectors.