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Meet The Maker: Fabiola Knowles

Meet The Maker: Fabiola Knowles

Originally from Sicily, I grew up in Australia; however, having settled in the UK in 1996, it has been my home for the largest part of my life. I love the outdoors and I am drawn to open landscapes with big skies.

I am an artist working mainly with various forms of printmaking. I use a variety of techniques and sometimes combine them. In recent years I have gravitated more towards monoprinting, reduction linocut and collagraph printing. 

Describe your printmaking process.

I am currently employing monoprinting more than any other way of working. It allows me the freedom to experiment, explore and develop. The best way to describe my current work would be as 'layered monotypes'.

How and where did you learn to print?

Like many people, my first introduction to printmaking was at school, creating a single colour linocut. I studied at the University of Melbourne, with my major area of study being in textiles. I learned the art of screen printing, which is a great way to apply surface decoration to fabric.

When I left university and without easy access to a printmaking studio, I didn’t revisit printmaking for many years. It was while living in London that I started to take some courses with a local artist. They introduced me to a variety of techniques, including collagraph and some methods for monoprinting.

I have since developed my printmaking practice alongside fellow artists, and by taking courses when I can. I love to learn from other artists and I have found the artist community on social media to be very generous in offering advice and answers to many questions.

Why printmaking?

 When I describe my monotype process, people will often ask me why I go to all the trouble of making a picture in reverse and transferring it to paper. Why not just go straight onto the paper? To many it might seem overcomplicated, but over the years I have been able to develop a range of mark making methods and a visual language through the process of printing.

I have got to know my tools and materials well, and I know how they behave and how far I can push them. There is also something different about the way a printed image sits on the paper, that cannot be replicated in other media. A print can be dynamic and gestural, full of texture and still sit flat on the paper. I also enjoy the overall process of creating a print.

It’s not just about the final product; it’s about the journey, experimenting, problem solving and the contemplation along the way… and of course there is always the thrill of the reveal when you pull the paper away from the plate to see what it gives you.

Where do you work?

I print at home in my garden studio, using an etching press. I am very fortunate to have this space where I can leave work in progress without having to pack it away. So many wonderful printmakers are kitchen table artists; juggling life, work and art all in the same space. My little studio also allows me to run small workshops from home, which is great.

 Describe a typical day in your studio.

A typical day in the studio always starts with choosing an album or playlist, so I can get some music playing. Music really helps to get me into a creative zone. Next, the apron goes on and I’m feeling ready to work.

Once an idea has had time to develop through a number of sketches, I will throw myself into a few small experiments with ink and paper. I work through ideas as I go, developing the right marks, colours and shapes for a body of work.

It’s not always creative though. Some days I may start with cutting or tearing paper to size, staining blocks of lino ready to carve, making a new collagraph plate or framing work up in preparation for exhibiting.

How long have you been printmaking?

 My printmaking journey started 35 years ago, but it is only in the last 10 years or so that I have had the confidence to call myself a 'printmaker'.

What inspires you? 

I often don’t need to look far for inspiration. My subject matter includes local landscapes and places I have been or remember. I also am interested in still life - taken from my daily life and not arranged. The majority of my work is figurative; however, I have a keen interest in making abstract work also. I am interested in light, the changing seasons, atmosphere and time of day. I love shadows and patterns too.

A significant part of my artmaking practice is drawing and this is something I enjoy doing on a regular basis. I can often be found at the bottom of the garden, or in the fields near my home; with a bag full of random drawing materials, a few bits of paper and a sheet of board to lean on. 

My work is about the experience of being in a place or time. It is about my experience and how I feel in that place or situation. I try to portray a sense of calm and quiet. I also look to other artists for inspiration; some that are printmakers and some that are not.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

 One of my favourite printmaking products has to be Ternes Burton Registration Pins and Tabs. They have been an absolute game changer for my reduction linocuts. I have also found them useful with mono printing while I have been developing this layered approach. 

What have you made that you are most proud of?

My recent work has developed through some experimental processes. I am really pleased with what I have been able to achieve, as I feel I have a whole new visual language emerging.

My 'Looking Up' series of work was the beginning of this new direction. One of the prints from this series won first prize in The Spring Art Centre Open Exhibition, 'Terrain' in 2023. I feel my new work responded well to this theme and I’m glad the judging panel thought so too! This recognition has validated the new direction my work is taking, and encouraged me to continue experimenting.

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

 My work can be seen in a few local shops in Hampshire. I am a regular exhibitor at Oxmarket Contemporary in Chichester. I belong to a group called the Emsworth Printmakers and we will be having our third group show at Oxmarket Contemporary later this year, from 15th - 27th October 2024.  

I have also been selected for the Atelier Brighton (Atelier Beside the Sea) Open Exhibition 2024, which runs from 19th July to 8th September. Competition was stiff with 1000 applicants so am really chuffed I made it through! 

You can follow my work on Instagram or visit my website.

What will we be seeing from you next?

 I am really enjoying the new direction my work has taken with my experimental ways of making marks, and I am hoping to move this into creating more abstract work.

I would also like to run more courses this year, so if you are interested in developing your printmaking skills please get in touch.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

You don’t need a lot of equipment to start being creative, whatever medium you choose. Printmaking can be done with very little to start with. Don’t be scared of getting it wrong or making mistakes, this is how we learn and sometimes the mistakes will be the new discoveries you make. Do what feels right and what makes you happy.


To see more from Fabiola, follow her on Instagram.

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