Meet The Maker: Ian Burke
Ian Burke is a Painter Printmaker based in the North Yorkshire Moors. He was born in Saltburn and grew up in Redcar before studying Fine Art at Newcastle University. Having completed a Master's at Goldsmith's College, London he established a career in teaching art.
Ian now devotes himself to producing paintings and prints in his studio at home. Much of his work is inspired by the local environment, particularly the nearby village of Staithes.
Describe your printmaking process.
My printmaking process is relief printmaking, either in wood or linoleum, carved or etched. It is the most direct translation or transcription of my drawing technique which is both bold and graphic.
My etching lino technique is inspired by Michael Rothenstein’s own recipe which included wallpaper paste and caustic soda but I have replaced these with oven cleaner - my chosen example is Ovenmate - and wax resist. This produces more painterly marks rather than angular gouge marks.
Here is a few recent prints that I have used layering as opposed to the reduction technique or the key block. They can sometimes produce random colours but often you get happy accidents and the layering creates depth and interesting elements that my limited imagination could not have considered.
How and where did you learn to print?
I trained as a painter but when I left college I couldn’t afford a studio so I started to work with relief print on a kitchen table in my bedsit. I am mainly self-taught but I attended a workshop by Michael Rothenstein, which was very influential. I have been following his approach of experimental printmaking over four decades. My bible is Michael Rothenstein’s book on “Relief Print”
Coming from a working-class family in the North East I firmly believe in affordable art.
Where do you work?
I work in a large shed on the North Yorkshire Moors, close to my mill house where I house my large Colombian press. One end of the shed is dedicated to painting and the other to printmaking.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
It is a difficult balance between painting and printmaking but it depends how I feel and what deadlines I have to meet. When I have a painting commission then I paint and I will print when I have to print an edition for a deadline which is my main form of income as my prints seem to be preferred to my paintings, especially by the Royal Academy.
Woodblocks and objects in the studio found
How long have you been printmaking?
Since 1983 when I finished my MA at Goldsmiths College.
'Hummer' Etched lino and woodblock
What inspires you?
My family history via old photographs and surroundings on the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire coast. Increasingly I am drawn to animals, birds and fish that I encounter on my fishing trips and in my dog walks and exploration of the moors and woods.
'High and Dry'
What is your favourite printmaking product?
Japanese paper is perfect for woodblock and lino printing in my layering technique. A big piece of paper is unfortunately very expensive, so you have to live with mistakes.
'Stonegate Owl' woodblock and etched linoleum
What have you made that you are most proud of?
I think ‘Stonegate Owl’, which was voted the people’s choice in the National Open Print exhibition which appeals to my Egalitarian side and not to mention my ego. I have had a very rewarding collaboration with Ade Adesina which I provided the drawing, and he did the carving and the engraving. ‘ Whitby translated’, which won the Wells Open Contemporary Art prize.
'Whitby Translated' by Ade Adesina and Ian Burke
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
I run Staithes gallery with my wife in the Northeast by the coast. But I also show in Aldeburgh Contemporary Arts in Suffolk , Zillah Bell Gallery in Yorkshire, Pineapple Gallery in Bishop Auckland and I also show at the Royal Academy Summer Show when I get in. Recently I have also featured in the Wakefield Print Fair at the Hepworth Gallery and Printfest in Ulverston, Cumbria.
What will we be seeing from you next?
I have been playing with repeat patterns with a simple stamp set on a big sheet of lino which looks like a potential textile print. I plan to print it on a very expensive Japanese paper as block print with lots of layers behind.
'Kings or Clowns?' an example of Ian's layering technique.
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
Do not get discouraged if you have a knock back it’s part of the game. Follow your own preferences rather than what’s fashionable or pushes the correct conceptual buttons. If you don’t enjoy it stop doing it, you only have one life.
Join Ian in the Handprinted studio for a two day experimental relief printmaking workshop this year!