The Origin of A

By George Cullen.

I’m starting a series of blog posts about the materials of printing. In these I will examine with more detail, the materials and methods behind the prints at Of Cabbages and Kings. First up in the series I am going to look at paper size and how it came to be that so many artists work with the same paper measurements – in particular the ‘A’ size.

You’re probably already aware that a lot of the paper our artists use and the paper you use at home or at work is an ‘A’ size. As a result so are a lot of the frames that we stock, especially the more popular ones. So what is ‘A’ size paper?

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A diagram showing how A sizes fit in relation to each other.

‘A’ sizes form a group of papers whose dimensions are exactly half of the larger one before it, while also maintaining the same proportions. For example an A3 sheet is made up of two A4 sheets and two A5 sheets can me made from one A4. A0 being the largest sheet in the series at 841 x 1189mm.

The ‘A’ size paper measurements began their life in Germany in the 1920s. The standardisation was introduced by the ‘Deutsches Institut für Normung’ German Institute for Standardisation aka DIN who were responsible for the standardisation of many elements of German society including industrial output and technology. They have a wide range, for example DIN 72552 is responsible for electric terminal numbers in automobiles where as the one for paper size is DIN 476. There is even a typeface DIN 1451 which was designed in 1931 for its legibility.

The ‘A’ sizes and their metric measurements were adopted by Britain in the 50’s as part of the metrication of measurements and replaced ‘Foolscap’ which was 8½ × 13½ inches. DIN 476 allowed paper sizes to be standardised across Europe and many parts of the world. By 1975 so many countries were using DIN 476 it was established as ISO 216, which is the ‘International Organisation for Standardisation’ and ISO 216 is the official United Nations document format used today. ISO216 is used in every country in the world, apart from the United States and Canada whose paper ‘US Letter’ and ‘P1, P2’ etc is still based on an imperial measuring system.

The largest A0 sheet has an area of one square meter, which was the result of Germany adopting the metric system for their measurements. This also aided in measuring the weight. As paper weight is worked out as grams per square meter (gsm). So the weight of a sheet of paper is how many grams are per a square meter of that paper. The heavier the paper, the higher the gsm and generally the better quality!

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An A4 sheet showing folds of A6 and A5

So why isn’t A0 a simple meter square? Well this reveals the simple elegance of the ‘A’ measurements. If you fold a square in half you get two rectangles that bear no resemblance to the original proportions. The A sizes allow you to fold the paper in half and get the same proportioned piece of paper as a result. This is great when you have to resize artwork to fit different sheets of paper, perfectly demonstrated in the giclée prints of Mister Peebles. The ‘A’ size is used to give you the choice of having a larger or smaller print, without compromising the original artwork.

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 Mister Peebles – Scale Great Heights in A2, A3 and A6 sizes

So next time you are in Of Cabbages and Kings and looking at prints, take some time to consider the paper sizes. If you can’t spot the A sizes straight away look at the back, where we have written the dimensions. You might want to think about how you hang them on the wall at home. You could have one large A1 print or instead four A3 ones in the same space. That is the joy of the ‘A’ system as the structure is already set down in the large A0 and the other sizes are worked out by halving the space.

An Interview with Lauren Mortimer

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Our next exhibition will be with London based illustrator Lauren Mortimer. The opening night is on Thursday September 1, from 7-9pm, and the show will hang until the end of October.

We love Lauren’s graphite illustrations that combine nature elements in unexpected ways, and so it was very exciting when we got to sit down with Lauren for an interview and find out more about the lady herself and her artistic process.Lauren Mortimer_Profile

What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
The pencil is pretty much my best friend!

You originally studied Fashion Promotion at Central St. Martins. Has that influenced your current illustration work?
I think that it must have influenced my current work on some level, though if it has, not purposefully. By not having an illustration background, it allowed me to have more freedom and find my style quickly. My work does lend itself well to the fashion world though… I do a lot of editorial work for instance for fashion magazines.Lauren Mortimer Prints_2Many of your pieces include visual puns and hidden meanings, as well as surrealist combinations. How do those themes come together for your pieces?
I think the wonderful thing about illustration is that you can create anything you like on a piece of paper. There are no limits. Though my work is very realistic, I like to mix themes and merge objects together to create something more visually exciting – something that isn’t a reality. Patterns and texture play a huge part of my work too. I like to change the meaning of the objects, and nature will always be huge starting point for me.
 

Some of the projects you’ve worked on include illustrating books. Can you tell us a bit about the process for a larger project like that?
I’ve got 5 books under my belt so far, and I’m working my way through the final artwork of my 6
th, a colouring book. The wonderful thing about big projects like these is that you have a physical product at the end of it with all of your artwork put together. You see it in a different context to the piece of paper you created it on, and you have that proud moment. When my two cocktail books, Tequila Mockingbird, and Gone With The Gin arrived in the post from the publisher, it was really exciting, and definitely a highlight for me.Lauren Mortimer_Gone With The Gin Cover GWTG_Lauren Mortimer_Blade Rummer

There is a slightly macabre and dark undertone to many of your pieces, is that something you find yourself consciously drawn to? Do you find that graphite lends itself particularly well to those themes?
I think that it’s just my style and my interests that come together that way. By contrasting an object that’s soft and beautiful with something that’s hard, for instance, enhances each of them, and creates something poetic in my eyes. For me it’s more about how the viewer interprets it. Everyone should take what he or she wants from it in their own way.

How long have you been making prints?
I’ve been producing limited edition prints for about 4 years now! Time flies!

What is your favourite takeaway?
That’s easy… Pizzzzaaaaaaa!  

Thanks so much! You can see more of Lauren’s work on our website or in the shop. Feel free to pop by on Thursday the 1st to meet her in person, enjoy the work up on the walls and have a glass of wine.

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On The Other Side Of Town by Tom Berry

Tom Berry creates intricate drawings mainly with pen and ink. His original illustrations, which often feature animal and nature scenes with incredible depth and detail are then giclée printed in limited editions.

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Recently, Tom launched a Kickstarter to help publish his first illustrated book ‘On The Other Side Of Town‘. The campaign was so successful that it was fully funded in just over 24 hours, and he was able to do a print run of 1000 copies! The book is in a large format, with 24 pages and 15 detailed original illustrations and short poems. Together they tell the story of a busy town and the characters that make it. Each book in this first edition is numbered out of 1000 and signed by Tom.

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As a part of his Kickstarter campaign Tom filmed part of the process of illustrating the book as well as images from his early morning commutes through the city that provided his inspiration. He found that travelling at unusual times of the day revealed further layers of the city, in people and buildings than he would encounter during the day. These layers became the fantastical illustrations and poems found in the book.

We have ‘On The Other Side of Town’ and a number of Tom’s original digital prints in stock in the shop and online.

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An Interview with Freya Cumming

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Spring is just about here. Or at least surely it must be close – we can almost smell it! Also, right around the corner is our brand new exhibition with one of Of Cabbages and Kings’ longest standing collaborators Freya Cumming. Freya will be traveling down from Dundee with her latest collection of screen prints fresh of the drying rack. The private view is on Thursday May 5th from 6:30 – 9pm. We hope you can make it along. In the meantime, we caught up with Freya and found out a little bit more about her art process and influences.

What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
I use them all, but if I had too choose one, my weapon of choice would be a propelling pencil. I love ’em! 

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Your art features many repetitive motifs (hot air balloons, Victorian figures, the ocean, etc.). Do you feel like you work with themes or that you are drawn to a particular image?
I don’t think that I have any particular themes other than that most of the work I enjoy making has some form of pattern, however small a detail it is, it’ll be in there! The balloon images became a theme by accident, I lived in Bristol for seven years and I thought one day I might try a balloon print, as they are such a familiar sight in the city. I enjoyed the endless possibilities of patterns and colours within the balloons and so I got quite carried away and produced a whole series of these. 

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Your images feature many built up layers. Can you tell us a bit more about that process? 
One of the pleasures of screen printing for me, is the ability to play around with the opacity of the inks when mixing them. Printing in overlapping layers, in varying opacity can come up with colours and effects that I aren’t planned, but that make printmaking more interesting for me. I like making it up as I go along! It makes what can be a very technical process, much more interesting and spontaneous.  

Can you tell us a bit more about founding Snap Studio, the artists co-operative in Bristol?
It all came about very serendipitously. My friend Frea and I were manning a pop-up shop in an old hairdressers in Bristol for a few days. We were chatting about how amazing it would be to have a studio, gallery and printmaking facilities under one roof. The man who had the keys to the hairdressers, just so happened to be the founding member of the ethical property company, and owner of  a beautiful 16th century building across the street. He offered it to us at a really reasonable rate which allowed us to seek help from the co-operative development agency in Bristol and go on to form a co-op with six other printmaking friends. We are all either just graduated/ or graduating, so it was perfect timing. It was the perfect setting- post-uni to have somewhere to work. 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

You recently moved back to your hometown in rural Scotland. Has this move changed or influenced your work? 
I’ve realised with hindsight that it did at the time. I’ve always been inspired by my surroundings so suddenly, instead of urban scenes, I was drawing chickens and squirrels. I found I missed the urban landscape and I realised there was a danger that my work was unintentionally becoming overly countrified, so I moved my studio from the village to nearby Dundee.

How long have you been printing?
I learned to screen print the same year I graduated in 2001 – so on and off, around fifteen years of squeegeeing ! 

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What is your favourite takeaway?
All of them?!. I live in the middle of nowhere though so takeaway is rare! No-one will deliver this far either😦

Q&A with Tiff Howick

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We are excited to announce our next exhibition will be with Tiff Howick. It will run from Thursday February 4th, with an opening preview on Wednesday February 3rd from 6:30-9pm.

Tiff’s artwork features striking portraits of animals, focusing on dogs and British wildlife. They are done with a loose, expressive style in black ink, printed over a strong colour on crisp white paper.

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What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
It is very hard to choose, I would say overall it’s a paintbrush, I really enjoy experimenting with brushmarks to create different textures.  

Your art features striking portraits of animals. Have you always been drawn to animals?
I have, I grew up with pets – Jack Russells, rabbits and guinea pigs. I also spent my summer holidays in Norway where there were sheep grazing in the forests and we’d see squirrels, deer and elk.  

Your animals are very expressive, like they each have their own personality. Is that something that evolves as each animal is drawn?
Mostly the expression is intentional, I’ll have a reference image with an animal in a pose that I think represents a particular behaviour or emotion such as the spirited French Bulldog or the thoughtful Greyhound.  Sometimes the expressions evolve and either reflect the mood I’m in when I’m drawing or I make subtle changes to the eyes to create an overall feeling that works for the drawing. 

Reading the expressions in my screen prints is subjective, people commenting on my work have seen a variety of different emotions. 

Your art is inspired by your Scandinavian heritage, vintage children’s illustrations, and contemporary fashion illustration. On the surface these styles are quite different, what is it within them that you think draws them all together so successfully?
Over time I have incorporated in to my work the elements of each style that I most admire.  Limited colour palettes from Scandinavian design and the creation of striking images with just one or two colours.  The bold colours are from Scandinavia and my childhood picture books, two of my all-time favourite illustrators are Carl Larsson and Richard Scarry.  The loose, textured brush marks and sketchy lines are inspired by fashion illustration, I am a huge fan of David Downton’s work. 

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One of your most popular prints has been the Yellow Hare, which features a bright splash of yellow. Some of your prints feature colours that are not traditionally associated with the animal depicted. Do you feel that the colour can change the mood of the animal?
I’ve used bright primary colours to represent extreme versions of the animal’s natural colour, using one vibrant colour to simplify the final image. This sometimes ties in with the mood of the piece, the bright red fox staring assertively over it’s shoulder.  The hare is resting but alert, the bright yellow also representing a hot day in a cornfield.  

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How long have you been printing?
I first printed a long time ago on an art foundation course.  I rediscovered screenprinting fairly recently and have been using it to create most of my work for just over three years. Tiff-Howick-screenprinting-work-images

What is your favourite takeaway?
Since starting to work for myself I’ve researched and read a lot about how to make it work.  I would say the best advice, and the hardest for me to stick to, is to focus. Being creative my head is always full of new ideas, there are so many things I want to do and experiment with.  To make a living out of work that I really enjoy I’ve had to pick one idea and work really hard to make my screenprints as good as they can be. 

Or if you mean food it would have to be Indian :o) 

A Taste Of Morocco

That summer holiday may already be a distant memory, but some hazy recollection of glorious, sun-soaked interiors could be lingering. We’ve just received the latest collection of jewellery from Chalk House, all inspired by Moroccan tiles. These pieces sit perfectly between hot summer nights in Marrakech and the rich jewel tones and gold sparkle of the holidays.
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The tile work that is associated with the regions around Morocco, North Africa and Spain is an art form called Zellige. The mosaics are traditional created from coloured tile blanks that are cut into exact shapes and then assembled into complex tessellated designs. The highly geometric style originated out of Islamic faith, where the depiction of living things was forbidden.
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Chalk House’s Moroccan collection is inspired by a journey to Marrakech where they fell in love with the geometric patterns and bold colour combinations of the tiles. They have extracted and abstracted the patterns to create a range of necklaces and earrings at various sizes from small everyday earrings and pendants to large statement necklaces.
CHALK Tile sketch
Chalk House

From Malaika and Hazel: “We met while studying architecture. While at university, we started to make jewellery for ourselves applying materials and techniques used to make architectural models. We found that the pieces were very popular and the business took off from there. It helps that we have very similar tastes and we enjoy working as a team, constantly designing and bouncing ideas off each other.”us 4

All the Chalk House collections are inspired by architectural design and pattern. They like to play with scale and patterns to make ideas work on a relatively small jewellery platform, which is very different to the scale of a building.
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Made You Look screening and Q&A

Process of an Anthony Burrill print.

When we heard about the documentary Made You Look we just knew that we had to get involved. The film is primarily about printmaking and the digital age. The documentary interviews a number of established artists from across the UK about their work and how they view art and making in the middle of a digital revolution.

Process of an Anthony Burrill print.
Process of an Anthony Burrill print.

In our gallery and shop space we work with a number of artists who also print at Print Club London, a studio space that gives artists access to screenprinting equipment on a membership basis. Many of the artists in the film are also members of Print Club, which is located down the road from us in Dalston.

Hattie Stewart in the Made You Look documentary
Hattie Stewart from Made You Look documentary

We have organized a screening of the film on Monday October 26, at 6:00pm, at the Hackney Picturehouse. There will be a Q&A afterwards with one of the co-directors, Anthony Peters, and producer David Waterson. You can purchase tickets through Ourscreen for the event. We need to sell a certain number of tickets before October 18 in order to have the screening go ahead, so please purchase your tickets soon or we’ll all miss out!

You can watch the trailer for the movie here.

The synopsis of the film is below.

The last 15 years has seen a boom in the UK graphic arts and illustration industry, with a DIY scene emerging and prospering alongside new and affordable leaps in technology.

So much of our lives is now spent in the virtual digital realm, so what will become of the tactile objects we all hold so dear? Will we see books disappear in our lifetime? And why are more and more creatives moving away from the computer and getting back to using their hands to create art, both commercially and for art’s sake.

Made You Look is a documentary which sets out to explore the landscape of the commercial arts in the 21st Century. It’s a film that gives an insight into how modern creative people feel about the challenges and triumphs of living in a hyper digital age.

This film is a rare and candid insight into the work of some of the UK’s top creative talent, including beautifully shot footage of artists at work and play in their own creative environments.

Pete Fowler painting from the documentary Made You Look
Pete Fowler painting.

Anthony did a keynote talk at the Blogtacular conference in June, which they have just released for the public to watch. He talks about how he got the idea for the movie, some sneak peeks into the making of, and the importance of making.

We hope to see you at the screening!

Who Is Mister Peebles?

Who Is Mister Peebles?We’ve got another exhibition coming up, this time with perennial favourite, Mister Peebles! The exhibition will open on Thurs Sept 3, from 7-9pm, here in the shop and continues until the end of October. There will be prints and cards in new and old designs, and even some Peebles originals! We did a little interview with Helen McGinley, the artist behind Mister Peebles to find out a bit more about how those punny creatures come to life.

What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
A combination of mechanical pencils, watercolour pencils, water and very small brushes.

Who is Mister Peebles?
Mister Peebles is the man with the animals, he meets them on his world travels. He is quite a shy sort of chap and while at home prefers to sit in his chair, drink tea and read tales. I draw his animals, keep the teapot filled and listen to his stories.

How did you get into the business of drawing punny animals?
A few years ago I was working at a job that wasn’t really going anywhere. I decided to leave a cold January in London and went to summer in Tasmania with my husband to be. I didn’t have a working visa so I spent the days drawing and looking at the Tasmanian landscape. The animals and puns just seemed to introduce themselves to the pages. I would draw plants and food and phrases but most of the sketches seemed to be animal or pun related in the end. Once back in London I decided to start a little range of cards and prints and the puns kept appearing!

Cat Paw

What is your process for creating your pieces?
Each drawing is quite different. Some begin with the word or phrase and others with the creature. Some take a day, other much longer. I like to sketch out a rough idea and then add all the details and textures. Building up the layers of fur, feathers or fabric with watercolours is my favourite part of the process. There are always multiple colours in each texture, even if it ends up looking like a flat colour, it rarely is. I usually colour the eyes in first. I think the eyes are key to giving the creature their personality. Once the drawing is completed I scan it, clean it up and add lettering, either by hand or in Photoshop. Then everything is printed here in the studio or by our helpful printers.

Do you find yourself returning to themes or characters with your work?
I often return to a particular animal over and over. Bears are a current favourite and it’s great to really sit and learn what an animal looks like by drawing them a lot. I love to read about a species and their habits when I am drawing them, I think it helps to inform the illustrations and the themes behind them. I also clearly can’t resist a pun or a play on words so that is often the start of a idea which grows from there.

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How long have you been drawing?
I’ve been drawing since I was small. I was lucky my parents encouraged it and I went to schools with passionate art teachers that helped me keep it going. I studied Costume Design at Edinburgh College of Art and there was a lot of life drawing involved, which I always loved. We got to draw models wearing stripy socks and holding stuffed alligators or surrounded by props. It was great!

I have been drawing the puns and animals since finding Mister Peebles in 2011.

What is your favourite takeaway?
That’s a tough one! It has to be either pizza from Zaza Express or a curry from Bombay Munch, depending on the day. Always with a cold beer. Mister Peebles is a big fan of Sutton & Sons fish and chips. 

Thanks Helen and Mister Peebles! We look forward to seeing you September 3. 

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Know Your Silver?

Here at OCK we are very interested in sustainable, ethical and environmentally friendly practices. We share a space with a yarn shop focusing on the same things in textiles. It is one of the reasons we work with so many local and independent artists. We know that these businesses are ethical because we work directly with them, supporting local jobs and economies.

One of our newest editions to the OCK family is Wild Fawn, a London based jeweller working with ethical silver. But what on earth is ethical silver?! Having chatted with Emma and done some research of our own, we are happy to report back.

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These circle studs are part of the newest pieces that we’ve received from Wild Fawn.

Mining in general is an incredibly harmful and toxic industry. The process of extracting resources from the earth for human use goes back centuries and has a history of environmental destruction, bad labour practices and general dodgy dealings. As we found in our research, information is very difficult to come by, so it is hard to know even now what the true status of the industry is, or even where exactly a lot of the silver comes from. We have come away with more questions than answers, but we believe that raising these questions is what makes us all better consumers.

We did manage to find out a few interesting things though. Most silver (approx. 75%) is used in the production of computer electronics and other industrial items, which has made public pressure difficult. This is in contrast to gold where only 20% goes to non-jewellery uses. This means that it has responded well to campaigns for better regulation and industry change. Did you know that 70% of new silver production is a result of mining other minerals like copper, zinc and gold? The other 30% comes from dedicated silver mines. This is a tricky idea ethically. Some say this byproduct silver is more ethical as it came out of the ground anyway and may as well be used, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was mined in the first place.

One of the best things about silver is its longevity. Since it doesn’t degrade it can be re-used. Silver is easily melted down and turned into something else. Recycled silver therefore is very environmentally friendly if the initial mining process is taken out of the equation. The demand for recycled or ethical silver from the jewellery industry is un-surprisingly high. As Emma put it when she was telling us how she buys the silver that she uses in her jewellery, why wouldn’t you? It is more expensive to buy wholesale, but you can always melt and recycle your own.

Wild Fawn’s recycled silver jewellery includes a line of earrings and necklaces are simple and classic designs, which makes them perfect to wear everyday. Not to mention that the recycled silver makes you feel good about it too! We particularly love the more unusual design of these hammered studs that snake up the ear. Another aspect of silver that we have been learning about from Roderick of Rodology is hallmarking. This is a process where pieces of silver are given a certain set of official marks to prove their authenticity and purity. Any silver items that weigh more than 7.78g (a fifty pence piece weighs 8 grams) must legally be hallmarked by an Assay office. The oldest such office is The Goldsmith’s Company, which has been providing the service since 1327!

We have pieces in again from Daniel Darby, including this Silver Anvil Pendant. The hallmarks on this piece are on the bottom of the anvil.

Silver Anvil Pendant

Last on the list is sterling silver? We use the term the all the time in our product descriptions as a mark of quality, but what does it signify? Sterling silver is in fact an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.

So there we are! Thanks so much to Emma of Wild Fawn and Rod of Rodology for talking to us about recycled silver and hallmarking and bringing it to our attention. We are sure to keep an eye out for more information to share with you.

 

Ashley Amery Inverview and Exhibition

We are excited to announce the next exhibition in the shop. Ashley Amery will be displaying new prints and drawings on July 2 from 7-9pm. If you are interested in attending you can RSVP with our Facebook event.

We were able to grab Ashley for a little interview about her work and inspirations, as well as a preview of some of her pieces that will be displayed in the show.
Web Banner OCK show_2What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, printing squeegee…
A pigment liner pen, or a small paint brush.

You have studied art in California, Italy and in London. Did you find that there were different approaches to art in each place? Has that influenced your work?
I think place always influences work, the landscape as much as the people. In California, I studied under artists influenced by Abstract Expressionism, who focused on the act of painting as an expression of the unconscious. California felt big and open. Large canvases layered with paint made sense in the space there. When I moved to Italy, it was a different world, packed with detail, and an extensive past. I had access to darkrooms and printmaking studios, and a library full of art theory books. I became interested in photography and how an art piece can embody a concept. I wanted to live in London partly because I read about ideas coming from the art colleges there. I loved the work of artists who used their practice as a way of thinking philosophically, often humorously. During my MA at Camberwell I began to draw about my internal struggles to define my identity. Since then I have circled back to the unconscious, approaching it with illustrative imagery rather than painterly gestures. Using the narrative aesthetic of illustration can be an unsettling way to point toward questions about limitations. Opposition within a piece creates energy.Ashley Studio shot

Your pieces evoke storytelling, imagination and play, while also hinting at darker mysteries. Can you tell us a bit more about your inspiration for creating these pieces?
For me, art is play that helps me access my thoughts. I like to think of my drawings as a way of looking for the unknown self.

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Swimming by Ashley Amery 420×594 mm.

You also run a business (White Wall Yellow Door) creating children’s resources for museums and galleries. Do you find it very different to create art for children than adults?
The work I do with WWYD is about creating space for children to use their imaginations, which often means having to think about bigger ideas and take away much of my own detail work. I co-direct with an artist friend of mine, Sophy Rickett, and we enjoy the challenge of getting ideas about art across to young people. Each project has a direct aim and a client, providing a nice structure to work within. It’s exciting to make something kids spend time with, giving them ways to discover their own ideas and abilities.

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Story no. 1 by Ashley Amery. Gouache on paper.

Do you find yourself returning to themes with your work?
I am fascinated by the idea of the human mind, memory, and the unconscious, especially Jung’s archetypal Shadow. I have returned to this in a number of drawings and prints.
How long have you been printing?
I have been printmaking in some form since 2005, and I’ve always been drawing.

What is your favourite takeaway?
Bos Cirrik