Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I was born in Toronto and grew up mostly in and around the city. As a teenager I moved to London, England and spent a number of years living and travelling around Europe. For the past 20 years I have lived in Guelph, a smallish city close to rivers and countryside yet still near enough to the excitement of Toronto when we want it. I live in an old house with my husband and son, close to the downtown. My studio is a short walk away in a wonderful building where I am surrounded by a large community of creative people.
How did you get your start as a printmaker?
After a five year post high school wandering break, I realized that I should try to go back to school, and enrolled in a studio arts program at University of Western Ontario. Being in school again was great but not quite what I was looking for. I signed up for an evening painting class in the local tech. school's art annex and fell in love with it. Beal Art was like Fame school for the visual arts! I finished the two year program specializing in intaglio printmaking and painting. After Beal Art, I applied to the University of Guelph, found a studio and moved in, only to discover that I had not been accepted. So I purchased an etching press and some tools with the money I had saved for tuition, and set to work. That was in 1993 and since then my practice has developed and grown, thanks to some great workshops, connections in the printmaking community and a lot of serious studio time.
Have you made mixed-media work throughout your career as a printmaker or did it come later?
When I discovered printmaking in school I was also painting, drawing and hoarding paper. The different disciplines did not really merge until after I finished school and was working in my own studio. Introducing chine collé into my printmaking changed everything and a whole new world of possibilities opened up for me. Chine collé is a printmaking technique which involves printing on a fine grained tissue paper while pasting it to a heavier support paper with the use of a press. The papers I use are called washi (fine handmade Japanese tissue papers) and some are very thin, semi-transparent in a variety of soft shades and subtle textures. When I am working on an etching or other print I often proof the image in different colours of ink on just the washi and put them aside. I soon realized the potential in building multiple translucent layers of printed paper and incorporating them into drawings, paintings and other prints on paper, canvas and most recently birch panels.
"Sweet Nerines in Blue" etching with chine colle, 2012.
Tell us about the materials in this series.
The works in this series are unique compositions made up of lots of bits and pieces of printed washi accumulated from previous editions and experiments. With the use of my small etching press, I have pasted the arrangements onto a heavier cotton rag paper (BFK Rives). I experiment with so many different papers but some of the lovely papers I have used are; gampi tissue, mitsumata tissue, white mitsumata, inshu gampi, inshu kozo and gampi silk tissue. There are a few heavier kozo coloured papers that I have used but my favourites are the very fine, crisp tissues that layer so nicely. Some of the pieces have been printed from antique lace doilies and rick rack that I have collected over the years, and a small tissue flower with thread made it into one of the works.
Printed washi paper.
Something I find interesting in your work (including the pieces in this show) is how you fluidly shift between very soft colors and graphics and much punchier ones. Can you talk about this?
This is a good question. I work mostly in a very graphic way on my etchings and silhouettes of botanicals, but the image is always printed on a warm washi to soften the contrast. The fine grain of the paper picks up so much detail and subtle plate tone that sometimes my focus shifts to these areas and I want to make work that is from this place of nuance and subtlety. It is an exciting challenge for me to work in a quieter palette where a few light, neutral papers play off each other and is a good exercise in balance.
What else are you working on... any exciting upcoming projects?
I am working on a solo show, a series of 12 etchings, for the Rotunda Gallery at Kitchener City Hall this Autumn and also a small etching for a print exchange through Art House Co-op for the Brooklyn Art Library. So lots of etching and editionning in my future.