Boodle Hatfield Printmaking Prize with Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair – Q&A with shortlisted artist Emily Ketteringham

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 ten shortlisted prints for the 2021 Boodle Hatfield Printmaking Prize. Over the past few weeks we have been getting to know some of our ten shortlisted artists through a series of Q&As. We are continuing our Q&A series with Emily Ketteringham, a printer from Bristol, who is shortlisted for her series of screen prints.

What is the inspiration behind your shortlisted print?

My Colour of Place series is about the importance of colour within memory.  It is about being in the moment, drinking in the colour of a landscape, letting the colour be all there is. 

I have Aphantasia, a ‘lack of a mind’s eye’.  This means I can’t hold images in my mind, so I have little visual memory or imagery.  My memories of place mainly consist of an overall impression of colour.  With these prints I wanted to celebrate the colours of places I had been, and at the same time see if by really studying photos I had taken, I could consolidate my very tenuous memories and strengthen my visual memories of place.

Each print is based on the colours in a photo of a moment that made a significant impact on me during my travels in Western Australia – a walk at sunset from a campsite on the way to Karijini National Park, driving past burnt trees near Durack, the view from a wildly extravagant helicopter flight over the Bungle Bungles in the Purnululu National Park…

Although each print is inspired by a specific place that I have been to, my hope is that the colours and abstract shape will evoke memories of different places for each viewer.

What methods of printing do you use?

My work is screenprinted.  This means each colour is printed by using a squeegee to force ink through a stencil on a mesh screen.  For my ‘Colour of Place’ prints, I tape off sections of a main circle stencil to create segments, and then print colours one at a time, gradually building up the whole circle.  I use up to 30 colours in each print.  As I use very thin, translucent inks, where more than one colour overlaps, new colours are created.  I love the discipline of mixing exactly the right colours to match the photos I am working from, and then relinquishing control by overprinting multiple layers and seeing what new colours are created – it is as though colours hidden in the landscape are revealing themselves.

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

A month-long residency to Northumberland in May last year was postponed due to the pandemic, and travel restrictions meant that I wasn’t able to do the walking in Wales which I was hoping to do, so opportunities to collect new source material last year were severely curtailed.  Along with many, I found it very hard to be creative in the face of so much sadness and uncertainty.  I am really hoping 2021 will bring better things.

Before the pandemic I did my preparation work at my studio in Centrespace, but the actual printing at Spike Print Studios.  The lockdowns have meant that I have not been able to go to Spike Print for much of the year.  This has been a huge loss, not only due to the lack of access to print facilities, but also being cut off from the creative community that I get to work with when I am there.  One positive outcome is that this has forced me to make the rather terrifying commitment to finally buy my own screenprinting bed.  This means I can now print at my studio (though I am still unable to expose new screens until Spike reopens).  The print bed practically fills my studio so I have spent months rearranging the space, building shelves to create storage, and ruthlessly clearing clutter – but I finally have a functional printing set up.

How did you get into printing?

I originally started printing in 2006 when I took an evening course in printmaking at Queens Road Art School in Bristol.  It was a year-long course, and whilst I enjoyed all the forms of printmaking we explored, none of them really grabbed me until I tried screenprinting. It was the last technique we looked at, and I was immediately drawn to the overlaying of colours and the potential for precision.  I have continued to learn all I can about the process ever since.  In 2012 I gained a distinction for a 3 year MA in Printmaking at the University of the West of England.

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