Boodle Hatfield Printmaking Prize with Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair – Q&A with shortlisted artist, Jake Garfield

We are delighted to have been advising and supporting Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair for a number of years. At the 2019 edition of the Fair, the Boodle Hatfield Printmaking Prize was launched, followed by a prize giving evening in late February 2020 at which the shortlisted prints were displayed and the winner announced. At the 2020 edition of Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, members of the Art Law & More team selected their shortlisted prints for the 2021 Boodle Hatfield Printmaking Prize. Over the coming weeks we will be getting to know some of the ten shortlisted artists through a series of Q&As. We begin with Jake Garfield, a printer based in London, whose shortlisted print is called ‘Private View’ (woodcut, lino & stencil on arches paper).

What is the inspiration behind your shortlisted print?

I’ve always been a sucker for worlds-within-worlds, whether in the form of stories-within-stories in films and literature or as meta-images within visual art. My work is all about the relationship between fiction and reality and this device of including framed images within the prints is my way of testing the boundaries between the world of the viewer, the world of the image and images within.

In a way, Private View is a sequel to an earlier woodcut of mine ‘The Real Thing’. In both prints, framed female faces are given an agency as they gaze out beyond the work’s surface towards the viewer. In this sense, the title ‘Private View’ is as much about the act of looking as it is an exhibition’s opening night.

What methods of printing do you use?

‘Private View’ is part of a series of woodcuts, however it’s actually a three-layer print using wood-block, lino and stencil.

The process is physical and labour intensive. Prints are formed through the carving of wooden (or lino) blocks, which are then rolled up with ink and pressed at high pressure onto cotton paper. Images are developed over a number of months through multiple iterations, with traces of a block’s evolution evident in each finished piece.

The darkest layer you can see is made using an old-fashioned paper stencil.

How did you get into printing?

I was introduced to printmaking by painter and printmaker Tom Hammick while studying on a Fine Art Painting BA at Brighton. Tom introduced a group of us to etching, before sending myself and a friend to Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) for a four-month exchange. I spent most of my time at NSCAD’s print studio, which was open 24-hours a day with blues music playing and soup bubbling on the hot plates.

From then on I was hooked, and eventually went on to study for an MA in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art.

How has the pandemic affected your work – on a practical level and in terms of inspiration?

2020 was a bit of a rollercoaster, as a type 1 diabetic I have been playing it extra safe. I managed to pick up some equipment and a stack of wood blocks just as things were getting serious in March. Fortunately, I was able to negotiate timings with my flat-mates as to when the living room would become a make-shift studio and ended up doing quite a lot of woodcutting.

As the old cliché goes, the restrictions actually ended up helping creativity in many ways. I learned to draw on an iPad, which has meant being able to experiment and digitally ‘proof’ my works in a low-stakes and reversible way. That has been a huge breakthrough.

Lockdown also provided a nudge to slow down and reflect on the direction I am taking these works. I have a habit of getting my blinkers on and just working, so it was valuable to get some perspective on the project.

You can find out more about Jake’s work at jakegarfield.co.uk or on Instagram at @jakegarfieldart.

Private View, Jake Garfield
The Real Thing, Jake Garfield

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