For a few years, my eye has been increasingly drawn to the etchings and aquatints of other artists: Paula Rego, Louise Bourgeois, Betty Goodwin, Tessa Horrocks, Eben Goff, David Hockney, Norman Ackroyd, among others.
As a gift to myself in 2016 I booked onto a weekend etching course at Prospect Studios with printmaker Alan Birch. It turned out to be the most exhilarating thing I’d done for years. I didn’t want to stop printing for anything; food, conversation, toilet breaks or to go home at the end of the day.
Thanks to the Professional Development Bursary I have spent many more dirty weekends with my inky new love. Thank you a-n.
Prospect Studios is in Waterfoot, a small Lancashire mill town where the Whitewell Brook meets the River Irwell. I enjoyed the drive through the nearly-countryside, escaping domestic life in Liverpool. Alan opens his studio one weekend a month for people to make use of his equipment, materials and extensive knowledge. The atmosphere during these sessions is busy, productive and supportive, with familiar faces returning month after month. Alan is a brilliant, enthusiastic teacher; encouraging me to experiment and intuiting techniques I’d be interested in trying.
Since birthing my daughter in 2014 I’d wanted to visualise the feeling I had, while my hips were opening up to allow her passage, that the entire universe was passing through my body. I guess her universe was passing through me.
I’m finding my way towards something and here are some images of my trying and failing and trying again. Way of depicting the night sky through etching, aquatint, drypoint with use of solvents…
I contacted the goddess of all things preggo in Liverpool, Jenni Jones, and asked her help in finding a heavily pregnant woman to draw and photograph. Lovely Annie answered my call; she works in the arts and was happy to be involved.
Annie was nearly nine months pregnant when she modelled for me. Holding poses in the various active birth positions, she was a strong woman and a generous model. I wanted to capture something of that strength in my prints.
One of these prints was accepted to The Liverpool Open at Editions, a commercial gallery in Liverpool. How pleased I was – me, a complete beginner, with a piece of work accepted for public display.
After working/playing with fabric and stitch for most of my life I know how to judge a textile piece. However, as a printmaking novice I had no idea if what I was doing was any good or not. But I was enjoying it so I kept doing it.