Some time ago I had an inkling that I’d like to try printmaking.

For many years my practice was centred on fabric and stitch, which, while still my first love, had become too comfortable and easy. Familiar. And you know what familiarity breeds. The meticulous nature of hand embroidery (the way I do it anyway) was starting to feel restrictive and I wanted to try something more dynamic, gestural. To make mistakes and be a beginner again.



The a-n bursary, apart from funding my printmaking adventures, has afforded me five professional development sessions with Mark Devereux of Mark Devereux Projects.

Originally, this bursary formed part of a bigger research and development project, for which I applied to Arts Council England for funding. I proposed to take time to reflect on my practice to date and figure out the ways in which I would move forward. ACE weren’t as keen on this idea as I was and they said ‘No thanks’. My first two sessions with Mark were all about rewriting and resubmitting my application. More revelations followed, about how I view my work and this particular point I’m at in my career. Together we rebuilt the entire proposal from scratch. Though still a lab for testing and reflecting, the project had changed markedly by the time I submitted my next funding application. Still ACE weren’t keen.

I first met Mark when I took part in StudioBook 2015. This was an intense week of talks – covering subjects such as talking and writing about your work, fundraising, accounts, writing proposals, strategic thinking – and an exhibition with artists’ presentations. It was challenging and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have used techniques and advice from these sessions many times since. And I still hear Susan Jones’ voice in my head telling us how valuable we artists are. Thanks Susan.

Alongside these adventures and applications life was happening. I got pregnant with my second child which changed my outlook on the future dramatically. Some months later I had a miscarriage which changed my outlook again, though not entirely back to my pre-pregnancy perspective. These happenings have influenced my plans and the focus of my work and have taken time to digest. After a fallow period during autumn and winter I now feel ready for my final two meetings with Mark, to look forward and make plans. Onwards and upwards.



I keep trying to figure out what it is about print that draws me. There’s something in the mechanical reproduction of the hand-drawn gesture. It’s drawing but not-drawing. And about the unique (hand-embroidered) object versus the (mechanically printed) edition or multiple. And that one can readily produce a series of images that are the ‘same but different’ – a longstanding interest of mine. Spontaneity within a structure?

The processes of etching and aquatint remind me of developing black and white photos in the darkroom on foundation. The depth of colour achieved by leaving the plate in the acid for longer or shorter time is akin to exposing the photo paper to the negative image on the enlarger. I enjoy the total headfuck of working with negatives and positives in mirror image.

There is a set procedure to follow, involving tools and chemicals, yet at each step of the way there is such potential for play and experimentation. Drawing on the plate, application of aquatint resin to the plate, applying a resist by brush, pen or stencil, immersing the plate in the acid bath, inking up the plate – each step can be played with to infinite degrees. There is always a surprise when the image is finally revealed. A revelation.

There is so much potential that I feel I could spend the rest of my life printing and never achieve mastery. That’s a strange feeling for someone who loves to learn and perfect. Quite exciting and a bit scary.

I’ve been interested in pelvic bones. The word comes from the Latin meaning ‘basin’. Nice. When I was pregnant I imagined the baby being cradled in that basin, a fullness to the body. The fruitful, bounteous body. Some of my past work was made in response to my difficulty in conceiving a child and the thought of the empty basin was also present in these prints. The infinite void. Which brings us back to the cosmos.

The prints I made at Prospect Studios formed part of my successful application to participate in the AA2A scheme at Liverpool Hope University. The project provides placements for visual artists and designer makers in Higher and Further Education institutions across England. I am currently working one day a week in the print studio at Hope and it’s an absolute delight.



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.