I'm catching up a bit with these entries; but I can't go further without writing something about mangroves and coastal ecosystems as these have been a huge inspiration to me. I lived for around two years just south of Tanga in Tanzania; the Swahili coast is, and will always be, one of my favourite places on earth. I hadn't really begun my foray into printmaking at that time, but I am certain that the bright, beautiful images in my head have some sort of seed in that time and place. What a place! Salty and bright, mangroves, baobab and bright fabrics, white lateen sails and more hues of sea, sky and vegetation than I'll ever be able to capture. I've been lucky to go back many times since then and take pictures, and draw. I am particularly interested in ecotones, and the mangrove forests in that region have given me inspiration I will return to again and again.
In London last year I attended a lino print class at the fantastic East London Printmakers. The first image to come to mind was one of mangrove apples against a sea and sky scape. In those few classes I boshed out an image and was able to experiment with different plates for colour, and to use an absolutely mega albion press for the first time. Game changer.
I just spent a week in northern Tanzania packing up my belongings. I don't believe we're leaving, just packing up our permanent base there. Back in Kenya for the week I sat down to draw for my next print and found myself going back to my photographs of mangrove apples and seascapes.
I've decided on a series of square prints of favourite African landscapes. I'm really into Edward Bawden again; I imagine he's properly old fashioned in printmaking terms, but I still see him as the master of many layered lino cuts. I love the way he prints lighter colours over darker in some pieces, giving a muffled, fuzzy look to some sections while other areas remain crisp. I'm hoping to experiment with this when my feet touch the ground again and I can get my inks out! I wonder if EB worried about not being seen as a proper artist? He seems to have been unbothered by the distinction between craft, applied and fine arts- something to aspire to...