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Meet the Maker: Clare Morgan

Meet the Maker: Clare Morgan

Hi, my name is Clare, a printmaker and teacher based in Derby. I am a compulsive creator, obsessed with the process of printmaking. I have used many different techniques over the year’s, but the figure always seems to be a constant subject matter in my work. I love to create empowering figurative artworks that encourage reflection, empathy and calm.

Describe your printmaking process.

Most recently I have been using lino printing, this was a result of having to find a way of printing from home. I hadn’t worked in relief since university but ordered myself some supplies from Handprinted last spring and gave it a go. It was quite a transition from the screen printing I had been doing for the previous 2 years, but changing the process gave me the creative freedom I needed to push forward with new ideas. It feels like it is one of the best things I could have done for my practice.

I started to explore reduction printing first, carving one plate working from light colours to darker ones to bring the image to life.  My experiments then led me to use a combination of techniques, cutting the plates into pieces so that I could use contrasting colours more easily, alongside areas of reduction.

Right now I prefer to make a detailed ‘key plate’ using a very fine Pfeil tool before adding blocks of colour with an additional piece of lino, using reduction.

How and where did you learn to print?

I first discovered printmaking at art college 20 years ago! I adored the print room, the smell of the inks, presses and huge drying racks, it was just such an industrious space. I continued to explore print at university while studying fine art, mostly collagraph and screen printing. It wasn’t until I left university and started to create at Green Door Studios (an open-access printmaking space in Derby) that my print practice developed further. I began to learn about a wide range of processes, such as aquatint, etching, mezzotint and waterless litho, I continued to develop collagraph and loved intaglio processes, often working exclusively in monochrome, which is very different to my work over the last few years!

I am thankful to have had such a good introduction into printmaking, to have learnt about editioning, inks, papers and the studio set-up and what makes good practise, this knowledge had shaped my approach to printmaking.

Why printmaking?

I was hooked by the process, the preparation; tearing the paper and creating plates to the methodical process of printing. The discipline and patience involved with the creation of work excite me. There’s also an element of unpredictability, and the thrill of the reveal is always so worth it! I love that after the initial more creative parts such as the design and the creation of stencils or plates, the final stage is process orientated. There are rules, it uses different thought processes to the creative parts of art. It is an action, is repetitive and can feel quite mindful. I find joy in those studio days.

Where do you work?

I currently work from my home studio in the attic, it’s a small space but perfect for lino. I also use the open-access space at Green Door Printmaking Studios when I need more equipment or space.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

I usually have had ideas in my head for a while by the time I get to the studio. I often use photoshop to create some mock-ups. I like that I can move things around, explore different compositions and change things quickly. I can invert these images so that they are reversed (as printmaking is always backwards) and use these designs to base my plate on. They always shift from the original plan slightly as I begin to carve, as the carving is quite an intuitive process, and I am definitely in the flow.

I will make a proof and leave it for a day or so before deciding if I need to carve anything else away. I make colour palettes for inspiration and print these off to inspire me when mixing ink for the colour layers. I take a second plate for the colour and plan out where the colours will be going by transferring the design of my key plate onto the new plate. (I have put some videos of my specific processes on my IGTV channel) I work quite intuitively so will decide on the colours while looking at the plate, and the palettes and refine it as the reduction evolves.

My space is small so my prints get hung from the ceiling! But I love seeing them all in a row, and the room fills with the smell of the ink and it’s lovely.

How long have you been printmaking?

For about 20 years, although in this time I have explored so many printmaking techniques! I am fascinated by the process and learning new things. I love seeing how processes can influence each other, and even be combined. For example, making screen-print stencils from collagraph prints to capture texture.

What inspires you?

The recent combination of the figures and flowers that have emerged seems to be a natural progression of the idea of change. I have been fascinated with the concept of embracing the growth that can come from change and uncertainty since being diagnosed with blood cancer in 2016. Fortunately, I had a life-saving donor stem cell transplant which gave me my new beginning. This experience has shaped my approach to creating.

“The lotus flower is a reminder of the beauty that comes from change, the magic that a new beginning brings, and the seed of potential that’s buried in the most unlikely places.” – Jennifer Williamson

My artistic explorations over the last few years led me to the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi. It is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. We are reminded of this in nature which has been the main influence in this recent series of artworks. To me, Wabi-Sabi reflects the art of living, it helps me to be more present and let go of the need to have complete control – which is always an illusion. The figures show strength, hope, vulnerability and the use of colour, expression and composition act as reminders, allowing us to reflect and take from it what we need.

Working with lino, I love leaving evidence of the process, marks create life and energy. I want to share work that celebrates strength and vulnerability, acknowledging that everything is impermanent, imperfect and incomplete and that is beautiful.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

I adore the Caligo safe wash inks, I have used these to create my intaglio prints since 2005 and adore the vibrancy of colour and the fact they can be cleaned with soap and water. I was delighted to discover the relief inks when I started using lino, they are so silky, rich and smooth and I love how the layers sit over the top of each other.

I also love the Awagami papers which are so strong yet thin, and I love the history and ethos of the family-run company.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

It’s hard to choose one thing, as there is usually something from each series I create that I think embodies it. If I had to choose a piece though it would perhaps be ‘Strength’ as it was a complete experiment, my first jigsaw print and I adore it! You can find the work in progress images on my blog.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

On my website where you can see more work, buy art and get details of upcoming events and stockists.

What will we be seeing from you next?

I am looking forward to getting back to the studio to explore how I could combine screen printing and lino and the potential in that, as well as working a bit larger to capture more of the figure and movement.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

I think it would be to let go of the need for perfection, to embrace the unexpected, explore, experiment and approach creating with a sense of curiosity. Keep asking… I wonder what would happen if…  and let the process do its thing!

To see more from Clare follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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