Meet the Maker: Angie Lewin
I'm a printmaker working in linocut, wood engraving and silk screen. I also exhibit my watercolours and create collages of printed Japanese papers applied to objects collected on walking and sketching trips. In 2005, I set up St Jude's, along with my husband Simon, to produce fabrics and wallpapers designed by myself and other artists. We also publish an occasional fundraising journal, 'Random Spectacular', which features work by an eclectic range of artists, photographers, writers, musicians and more. I work on illustration projects, too, such as book jackets for Penguin and other publishers. I'm a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and the Royal Watercolour Society. 'Angie Lewin Plants and Places' was published by Merrell in 2010, and my prints and paintings illustrate 'The Book of Pebbles', written by Christopher Stocks and published by Thames and Hudson.
How and where did you learn to print?
I studied fine art at Central School of Art and Design in London. I was initially on the sculpture course, but in the first term of the first year, we spent time in each of the printmaking departments and by the end of this, I knew sculpture wasn't for me and asked if I could transfer to printmaking. A few years ago, I also began to work in stone lithography at Edinburgh Printmakers. Since moving further north, I've not been able to continue with this, but I loved drawing and painting onto the stone and love the subtle washes and quality of drawn line that this print process makes possible. So I hope to be able to do it again before too long. I've recently set up a screen printing table in my studio, so I'm enjoying spending more time exploring this process, along with my lino cutting and wood engraving.
When I first walked into the relief printing and lithography studio at Central, I was hooked. I liked the presses, rollers, and tools, the prints hanging in drying racks (those old wooden ones with the marbles to hold the paper) and especially the smell of ink. I enjoy the processes involved in printmaking and the way each stage informs what you will do next and naturally transforms your initial image and ideas. I've realised that I like to make multiples of images, and this also plays into my love of pattern.
Where do you work?
I have a studio at home on Speyside in northeast Scotland. We're on the side of a hill looking across to mountains and woodland. My studio is attached to an old croft cottage, and I've a space to draw, paint and cut lino and wood engraving blocks and draw onto films for screen printing. My screen printing table now sits alongside my Albion press.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
It depends on the projects I'm working on, but days tend to involve a range of processes. I usually have a wood engraving block on the go and might continue to work on cutting this or a linocut. When I'm editioning I often print a colour on a couple of linocuts or wood engravings while also working on a new screen print. I might also spend time mounting and wrapping prints to send out to galleries - so there then might be a drive to the local Post Office and a chance to walk our Border terrier Piper down by the River Spey. This time spent in the nearby landscape is a big inspiration for my work. I may work on pattern ideas and perhaps look at colourways for a fabric or wallpaper. I'll also sketch ideas for future prints. I find that while I'm printing, I'm thinking about the next image as each print seems to lead onto the next.
How long have you been printmaking?
I began printmaking in the mid-1980s at Central, so it's been a long time!
What inspires you?
The landscape and wild flowers around me here in northeast Scotland and also the islands of the Hebrides on Scotland's west coast. My work increasingly includes plants that I grow in the garden and my polytunnel. I now grow dahlias, parrot tulips and other plants specifically to include in prints and paintings. Our home is on the side of an exposed hill, so the polytunnel allows me to grow a wider range of plants, and it's a sheltered place to spend time outside in the winter.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
In 2017, I curated an exhibition in Winchester called 'A Printmaker's Journey', which included a range of my prints, paintings and fabrics along with works by artists and designers that have inspired me.
It was a 'Desert Island Discs' format, in a way, and it was a challenge, but fun, to come up with a final list. Exhibits ranged from a painting by Alan Reynolds, 'Summer: Young September's Cornfield', which I first saw on a 6th form visit to Tate Britain (I still have the postcard that I bought on my studio wall!) to works by contemporary artists such as Jonny Hannah, Ed Kluz, Emily Sutton and Mark Hearld. I included a sculpture and a print by Paul Morrison, ceramics by Paul Scott and Eric Ravilious, textiles by Enid Marx and Ashley Havinden, a Shell advertising poster by Graham Sutherland and woven willow by Lizzie Farey.
I aimed to give an overview of my influences and the work that has stayed with me throughout my life. It was a big project, but I was helped so much by a great curator at the gallery and by all the galleries and artists who generously loaned work for the exhibition. It revealed that, although we all have so many influences on our work that may seem unrelated, there is a common thread running through it all.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
What will we be seeing from you next?
I have a print exhibition, 'Through the Seasons', from 6th - 28th October 2023 at Castle Gallery, Inverness.
In February 2024, I'll be exhibiting in 'Screenprint 2024' at Centrespace Gallery in Bristol.
Also in 2024 is a solo show of my prints, watercolours, fabrics and wallpapers at Watts Contemporary Gallery, Surrey, from 21st March - 16th June.
In March 2024, Thames and Hudson will publish 'The Book of Wild Flowers', my latest collaboration with the author Christopher Stocks.
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
Try to absorb as diverse a range of influences as possible, as then your work will develop a style entirely of its own.