My latest exhibition is for South Coast Artists and it is a themed show on the word 'THREE.' I chose to use an anagram of the word, which is 'Ether.' This assemblage is all about bird flu, and the suffering that has occurred, including almost complete losses of vulnerable species in our northern islands. I was inspired to create this by finding a bird skull in the garden. I thought it was a crow, but according to an expert bird artist it is a juvenile rook! The piece is called 'The Fifth Element,' (ether), and comprises a limited edition drypoint, limited edition collagraphs, papier mache, eggs, bird skulls and gold leaf.
Here's the skull after I had cleaned it.
I am lucky to have a large garden, so I often find beautiful creatures who have moved on. I love this wren very much and decided to experiment with silverpoint to see if I could capture its special character. Silverpoint is a Renaissance technique which artists used before graphite. It's a drawing made with a silver point on paper or board which has been prepared with a ground. I have embellished my drawing with coloured pencil and gold leaf.
I participated in the Hastings Arts Forum Members' exhibition in May, with an assemblage called 'Camber Castle.' I fouond the dragonfly in the garden and it just dried itself naturally. So beautiful.
As a mixed media artist I do love to experiment with different techniques. I decided to see if I could print on fish skin so I went to my fishmonger and he gave me a Dover sole skin. You probably know that many cultures use fish skin to make garments and objects out of, so I studied online how to cure it. Below is the result - 'Thanks for all the fish.'
I love to draw. In my opinion drawing is very important as it uses all the artist's skills of observation - understanding of light and dark, subject, feeling, methods. It's also good to draw plein air, anything and everything. Here is a portrait of a beautiful taxidermy raven in graphite, and Pett Level when the tide is out, in charcoal.
'Relay', the South Coast Artists exhibition at Electro Studios in St Leonards in August, was all about reacting to the work of the artist before you in the exhibition. I had a wonderful photographer, whose work reminded me of quills and feathers. This piece is called 'Flight Risk and is all about what birds have to risk to exist.
'Flight Risk' detail
Flight Risk. Assemblage with drypoint and collagaph prints, feathers, vintage glove and graphite drawing.
It was wonderful to see the art world come alive again once the pandemic was over. I participated in the group show 'SoCo Open' at the Hastings Arts Forum in April, and the SoCo exhibition called 'Relay' which was in July at the Electro Studios in St Leonards.
Pictured is 'Birds of a Feather,' an assemblage of feathers, printed with linocuts, representing three birds of prey.
2021. This was a difficult year as my darling husband of 32 years died at the end of 2020. My desire to be creative disappeared under the grief, so I spent time admiring the work of my colleagues, and trying to stay connected. In the Spring I was fortunate to be asked to exhibit at the Benenden Art Fair. This was a wonderful opportunity to see friends and colleagues who I had really missed, and to be in a very creative atmosphere.
In the Summer I has a solo exhibition at The Crown, a gastro pub in Hastings, renowned for supporting artists, with revolving exhibitions all year. I also exhibited at SoCo Artists 'Smaller Picture' exhibition. Pictured is my friend and colleague Ian Barraclough helping me hang my solo show, and my oil painting 'Rose Hip' which has now sold.
2020. What a strange year it was. Exhibitions cancelled everywhere and little opportunity to network and socialise with fellow artists and collectors. As a conceptual artist I like to experiment in many techniques and media to express my ideas. I used the time in lockdown to learn the Flemish oil painting style, with some fantastic tutoring from the very talented Dani Humberstone. It is a fantastic medium and I am delighted to add it to my repertoire.
As a member of SoCo (South Coast Artists) my final exhibition for 2019 was part of 'RX19,' their exhibition in co-operation with The Fishermen's Museum in Hastings. I have pushed the boundaries of my printmaking skills to create a herring girl apron, made from hand-made Hanji paper from South Korea. It is printed with images from the lives of the herring girls and fisherfolk of Hastings.
'Peregrine Pachinko,' assemblage with charcoal drawing, egg and feathers.
'Once Upon a Midnight Dreary,' drypoint with chine collee and feather, edition of 15.
I had a slow start to 2019, but I have two new knees, which are marvellous! I was pleased to participate again in East Sussex Print Exchange's exhibition in July, and a very exciting exhibition at The Hasting Arts Forum in August called 'Chaos was a Friend of Mine.'
I was pleased to end 2018 by participating in the Hastings Arts Forum Creative Christmas. I have created another artists' limited edition book which is the feature of my exhibition at The Forum. I have taken the fine tracing paper drawings I used to transfer images to lino, and created a colouring book called 'Birds of Dungeness.' It is all about this special place, but also about all the endangered birds there. It will be in book shops in Hastings in the New Year.
I participated for the first time in Coastal Currents Open Studios (September 2018). I had some limited editions printed of my book and concertina, which were extremely popular. We had hundreds of visitors over the two weekends and an excellent response to our work. https://www.facebook.com/westhillartists/
In August I participated in a group show with twelve other artists called 'Light as a Feather' in Hastings, about all things avian, using bird and wing imagery. This exhibition gave me an opportunity to express my 'eco warrior' beliefs about the persecution of our magnificent raptors.
In July I created my first Artist's Book, a short story written by me, accompanied by fifteen linocut illustrations. This was exhibited at the Hastings Arts Forum as part of East Sussex Print Exchange.
South Coast Printmakers held another successful exhibition at Stade Hall in Hastings, featuring the work of several printmakers new to the group. To the left is a monoprint, printed using feathers and objects from the garden.
In the Spring I was pleased to be invited to become a member of Tenterden Artists, a large group of professional artists from Kent and East Sussex who exhibit twice a year in Tenterden and Rye.
'The Fox and the Crow' Limited edition drypoint
2018 started very well as I was fortunate to acquire a Hunter Penrose press. It is a double geared press and the most beautiful object. Although it's primarily an etching press it prints lino and wood very well. It is extremely easy to use and I have been very busy testing it out! A big thank you to two amazing printmakers for their help; Ben White for selling it to me and Vincent Matthews, who is also the proud owner of a Hunter Penrose press, for taking it for a spin and showing me the ropes.
In the summer of 2017 I exhibited in two group shows, both of which took place at the Hastings Arts Forum in July. The first was an exhibition by South Coast Printmakers, taking place from July 11 to July 23. The Arts Forum is located on the sea front in St Leonards.
The second was East Sussex Print Exchange, an annual exchange and exhibition of printmakers from the area. ESPE is developing a fine reputation for innovation in printmaking and this was a very successful exhibition. I will be participating in this again in 2018.
E A S T S U S S E X P R I N T E X C H A N G E
This print is one of several works I had on display in a two month residency at 'Edition' in Hastings as part of South Coast Printmakers. The residency ran until the end of April 2017 and we are very grateful to have been given the opportunity to exhibit our work in Hastings old town centre.
Printmaking is all about experimentation and I have printed this drypoint etching of a tree creeper on birch bark from my garden.
2016 was a busy year of drawing, learning, printmaking and exhibiting. I have continued my exploration of printmaking by taking a Master Class in August with master printmaker Nigel Oxley. Nigel, as well as being an accomplished printmaker himself, has editioned the work of many well-known artists, including Elizabeth Frink.
Liz Frink, like me, had a thing about birds of prey and in the early 1970s produced a wonderful series which Nigel editioned. I worked with Nigel on my own versions and to the left is an example.
Corvus Corone Dry point etching Edition of 6
My interest in these amazing birds extends beyond the artistic interpretation. I am very concerned about the plight of many of our raptors which suffer persecution in the hands of the gamekeepers of the large grouse estates. This is a cause taken up by wildlife author and presenter Chris Packham. The number of hen harriers in this country is pitiful because as soon as they fledge they are shot!
I am working on a series of charcoal drawings in preparation for an exhibition in the future with raptor persecution as a theme.
I volunteered as a Gallery Steward at the Jerwood Gallery (now Hastings Contemporary) in Hastings for a year. This gallery has an excellent collection of 20th Century British art and is well worth a visit. I am a writer also and authored a blog on a Lucian Freud bird drawing (what else?) on long-term loan which I love!
In May 2016 I participated in the exhibition of South Coast Printmakers, the group I co-founded, which took place at Stade Hall, Rock-A-Nore Road, Hastings. The theme of the exhibition was 'The Secret of the Sea.'
Fish owl. Collagraph, varied edition of 10.
I exhibited my work along with other artists in the Art of Caring, which this year is celebrating International Nurse's Day. The exhibition was held at the Rose Theatre in Kingston-on-Thames from 12th to 16th May.
In the summer of 2015 I co-founded a printmaking collective, South Coast Printmakers. Hastings, St Leonards and surrounding areas are rich in art with a good number of talented printmakers, but no forum dedicated to this discipline. All of us have gone on to participate in numerous exhibitions across the area.
In December 2015 we launched the collective with an exhibition <crossing borders> at The Garage Space, St Leonards-on-Sea. This was a visual response to migration by the six members of South Coast Printmakers.
The exhibition was very well received with good coverage in the Hastings Observer.
In the Autumn of 2015 I assisted talented printmaker Birgitta Wilson in teaching a collagraph workshop at The Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. The Jerwood (now Hastings Contemporary) has a very good curriculum of workshops and is well worth checking out. www.hastingscontemporary.org.
Photo credit Cheryl Bell
In December 2014 I participated in a Group Show 'Re-arrangements' by Naked Eye (now called Folio 14), an artists' group which meets regularly at Hastings Contemporary.