I am a self-taught relief printmaker now settled in the rural East of England, but previously London, Dublin and Melbourne. My work is very much influenced by all the surrounding countryside, its wildlife, and its ways. I work from my garden studio with views of the fields beyond.
Back in November 2016, probably fretting over Christmas card ideas, a thought came from nowhere: “I think I’d quite enjoy having a stab at lino cutting.”
Well, why not? I have a vague recollection of relief printing in primary school. Back when McDonald’s burgers used to come in polystyrene boxes, we were asked to collect those and bring them into school. There, flat squares would be cut from the box lids and bottoms and we’d make an impression into them with pokey, non-sharp implements. I imagine we then applied poster paint then pressed onto paper to reveal the back-to-front image. Magic!
Must have made an impression on me too, as the long-dormant memory came out of hibernation that winter. I bought myself a relief printing kit. Not knowing anything about lino printing equipment I took a punt at one of the options. The kit contained some carving tools, lino and vinyl, paper, a baren, some black printing ink and a roller. All for about £30. And I was all set. I made this!
Of course, my equipment and practice have evolved over time. I now use Pfeil cutting tools, Zerkall paper, Cranfield oil-based inks. I don't use a printing press, preferring instead to burnish the prints by hand using glass barens. I work mainly with the reduction method – a piece of lino is carved, inked and printed. The same piece of lino is then carved again, and printed in the next colour. This process continues until the finished image emerges. At this point, the piece of lino will not have much on it, just final details, and is effectively destroyed. There is no going back and printing more versions of the print! They are truly limited editions.