Stop Press

It’s always a pleasure to teach a skilled printmaker and I spent a day last week with Annette Sykes one to one in my studio while she got to grips with Japanese woodblock. We met in a hot tent at Hatfield where we were both demonstrating. Like me, she loves her lino, but, like me, she was immediately seduced by the possibilities of water based woodblock printing: no press, no size restrictions and a whole world of texture to explore.

I gave Annette a run for her money: she designed, cut and printed her image in the course of the day, but I also made her try some alternative types of timber. I don’t fancy the chances of her husband’s workshop surviving her enthusiasm for the raised grain of weathered timber. She’ll be filching wood at every opportunity just like me. I shamelessly helped myself to a chunk of unseasoned eucalyptus the size of a small child from a friend’s woodpile last week – I fancy cutting a rough monochrome landscape in wet wood – shouting that I would give them a print as the car buckled under the weight (they had some chestnut too which they foolishly let me see).

Annette did have a hitch when she got home; enthusiast that she is, she plunged straight back into printing. Having learnt from me to damp her printing paper in newspaper, she, like so many before her, fell foul of the Daily Mail. I neglected to tell her that I use old paper. My copies of the Guardian come via my family. They read it and then either I get it and it contributes to the creative arts, or their neighbour gets it and it’s dribbled on by their elderly Labrador. Point is that my old stuff doesn’t offset while Annette found unwanted coalition news on her printing paper thanks to a Daily Mail fresh off the press itself. Yet another note to add to my take home fact sheet. I can’t see it holding Annette back for long though…

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