Since lockdown began in March 2020 I've been mainly confined to the house. Mr. Flat has a kidney transplant, which puts him on the Extremely Clinically Vulnerable list, and has been shielding, as have I by extension (it’s easier that way, and less worrying). We've barely been out, other than to the back garden; a tiny courtyard full of flowers and vegetables, which is keeping us sane. I get across to the workshop as much as I can, but mainly we’ve been coping with the increased demands of daily life, and focussing on our day jobs to keep heads above water.
Throughout all this we've been intensely aware of the four walls around us. I produced 'These Four Walls', a series of four letterpress prints, in direct response.
The designs are randomised layouts of modular ornaments, set solid and printed in black. Working with metal type of various geometric designs (dots, lines and squares), each wall was composed by hand; the same, yet different. The vintage ornaments have tiny knocks and imperfections showing their age, as do the walls of our house. In a similar way to a reduction linocut, each layer exists only for the duration of the printing, and is then broken down to its component parts to begin again.
It felt appropriate to be using these ornaments. I bought them at Stroud Wayzgoose in early March 2020, shortly before lockdown. The ornaments looked so great in their box that I couldn't resist printing them pretty much as they were. What began as one print quickly developed into four.
Once the black series was complete and a small edition set aside, I moved on to two further editions with an overprint in fluorescent red and yellow. For these layers I introduced randomised holes and gaps so that the overlapping patterns interrelated with each other in a more dynamic way.
Excitingly, this has been the first project to use my new-to-me Stephenson Blake proof press. It has foot-controlled grippers for the paper (which leaves both hands free to feed in paper accurately), and registration. I’m expecting it to herald in a new era for my work. Fingers crossed!
Ludlow Fringe Festival
I exhibited 'These Four Walls' at Ludlow Fringe Festival in 2020 as part of the Ludlow Fringe Art Trail.
My ‘These Four Walls’ series and ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ prints in the window of Poyners on Ludlow’s Broad Street. The historic E.J. Poyner’s store has been serving the people of Ludlow for over 100 years. Poyners is a drapers and children’s clothing store and is also known locally for its charity work.
The Tŷ Pawb Open
‘These Four Walls’ was selected for the 2020 Tŷ Pawb Open. Following an open call where over 350 artists each submitted up to three works for consideration, the exhibition — a celebration of lockdown creativity — presented the work of over 100 artists. The exhibition ran from Saturday 3rd October 2020 – Saturday 6th March 2021. You can view a virtual tour online.
‘These Four Walls’ is currently being exhibited at Oriel Lockdown at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. From over 1,000 submissions, Anthony Shapland (curator at g39 gallery, Cardiff) and Ffion Rhys (curator at Aberystwyth Arts Centre) selected nearly 400 pieces of work by 160 artists. The works speak of the unease of confinement, walks that rediscover your square mile, the joys of nature and gardening, our eccentric hobbies, resourcefulness and the celebration of our NHS and its incredible staff. You can choose your favourite in the People’s Choice Award.
Oriel Lockdown is open from June 21st – September 5th 2021. To view the exhibition the gallery asks you to book in advance.
If you’d like to be first in line for the black, black/red or black/yellow series, please sign up for my email newsletter (below) or email me and I’ll let you know before the prints go on general sale. As with all my work, these will be a short run, and once they’re gone they’re gone.