Suffolk Lines: An Interview with Rachel Sodey

Rachel Sodey is a Suffolk based artist and printmaker who responds directly to the landscape around her. Rachel walks the Suffolk countryside with her dog Bo and draws inspiration from the flat land lines, the changing light, and the mood and feelings of the seasons. We are delighted to introduce a selection of her prints, created using a variety of textural printmaking techniques. In this interview with Rachel we get a little insight into her work and find out more about her process.

How long have you been printing for? When did you start out?

My first real experience of printing was at The Norwich School of Art where I studied a degree in fine art textiles. My favourite workshop was the print room and I definitely spent most of my time in there. The technicians were absolutely amazing and taught me so much. At Norwich I mostly worked with screen printing and free-hand embroidery. It was only when I started teaching at West Suffolk College that I rediscovered my love for printing through teaching it. I have the freedom to teach all aspects of printmaking and this is what drives my own work forward.

What is it about the Suffolk landscape that inspires you?

I am definitely obsessed with the flat fields of Suffolk and the clear horizons. Even from a young age I have had favourite fields and just cannot stop photographing the perspective lines.

A lot of your prints take an unusual circular form; how did that come about?

This was by accident really. I had written a project for my students and set the parameter that they all had to produce art work within a circular form. In one particular lesson in the print room, I demonstrated to the students how to create an intaglio plate on a circular piece of drypoint cardboard. When I put it through the press I was really happy with the outcome. This 10-minute demonstration inspired a whole new series of work. Most of my prints evolve from little experiments.

Tell us about the process creating your prints and how you create your plates

I mostly work on drypoint cardboard and make marks onto the plate by using a craft knife. I also have the choice to peel away layers of the cardboard which will hold the colour of the ink (just like the engraved lines) when I print it. The shiny surface of the plate also allows me to create mono prints as well. I am able to choose how much ink to leave on or wipe of the surface, this makes the printing process very exciting as I am never quite sure how each print will turn out.

You talk about the inking process being part of the experimental nature of the printing. How does the process of printing influence the end result?

There is so much to consider when printing a plate. I use the scrim to wipe the ink off the plate once it has been pushed into the engraved lines that I have made. The scrim then also becomes a tool to add movement to my prints – it is a painterly approach really. Although I have a certain amount of control that influences the end result, there are other factors at play such as how damp the paper is and the pressure the press is set to. I am just never quite sure how effective a print will be until I peel the paper away from the inked up plate.

You mention walking, where is your favourite place to walk?

My favourite place to walk is getting lost in the fields in the village where I live in Suffolk. After about 10 minutes of walking I am able to let the dog off the lead and I am just surrounded by fields. Lately on my walks I have been seeing a heron in one certain field which is completely amazing.

Have you found lockdown influencing or changing your work in any way?

Teaching online during lockdown has definitely been challenging so this has left me with less time than normal to get out in my studio. I think lockdown has made me appreciate the ability of being able to escape in my printmaking more.

Whats your favourite takeaway (food)?

Well normally I would definitely say my favourite takeway is a good old vegi curry, but I must say that lockdown has made me crave for a big fat juicy halloumi burger with fries.

Thank you Rachel.

To view more of Rachel Sodey’s work visit her Artist’s Page on ofcabbagesandkings.co.uk.

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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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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. 

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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 😦

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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!

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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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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