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Meet the Maker: Jenny McCabe

Meet the Maker: Jenny McCabe


This week we are introducing you to the beautiful work of Jenny McCabe. Learn her inspiration, working methods and motivation here:

Hi my name is Jenny and I live in Lancaster with my 2 children and husband. I have been an artist all my life – I started a degree in fine art in 1999 whilst my first child was only 2! Whilst at uni I took on artist in residence posts and delivered creative workshops around the northwest – they do say if you need something doing give it to a busy woman! I’m telling you this to illustrate how my art practice has always been busy and varied and I always have to find ways of sharing it with people – a passion of mine is collaborating and teaching.

I spend a long time working with digital art and film making but in 2006 I needed a change and decided I wanted to get back to making things – hands on getting messy making! This led me to screen printing as I wanted to work with my drawings and be able to layer and repeat and work with fabric. It has developed since then into my collages paper works but still screen printing gives me the freedom to layer my drawings and create unique artworks. I still can’t get away from sharing and teaching and continue to develop community arts projects getting the general public to come and print with me to make large scale works and of course I wrote 2 books sharing some simple printing ideas for making hand printed fabric items.

Describe your process.

My process starts with and idea and then lots and lots of drawing – some screwed up and thrown away never to be seen – some worked on over and over until right. I love to draw birds and animals and look for dynamic poses and movement which I try to capture in my messy ink lines. When developing a project to work with the public I keep it simple as the magic of screen printing is in the reveal! Lifting up the screen and seeing a perfect print never gets old and the smile on peoples’ faces when they pull their first print is very addictive for me!

How and where did you learn to screen print?

I did do a tiny bit of screen printing on my foundation art course at Bourneville art college in Birmingham in 1993!!! So I understood the basics but I am self taught apart from that – trial and error – tears and tantrums and now many years of practice – Plus I don’t think I would ever say I can screen print. I’m a bodger – I can get a print out of a screen but I don’t really know what I’m doing!

Why screen printing?

I wanted to be able to put my drawings onto fabric and paper collages and repeat and layer images – screen printing seemed the most flexible for my needs.

Where do you work?

For years I had a perfectly adequate studio in my garage (very cosy garage with heating and insulation! ) but I recently moved in to a shared studio space in the centre of Lancaster – my space is a similar size to my garage but its so great to be with other creative people and to have to leave the house to go to work! It’s making me work harder and have a more defined shape to my day – I still do the odd night working in studio till midnight but it’s more difficult to arrange that which was the idea – family first!

Describe a typical day in your studio.

I get into work straight after school run (my youngest is still at primary school). I turn on laptop while the kettle boils – I do a bit of half arsed yoga if my back hurts! Then I make a list for the day and try to tackle it! My days are short as I do the school pick up so I usually cram all my making and printing into the morning and leave admin till afternoon or once I’m home – I have plenty of galleries stocking my work so there is always a deadline for a show or re stock or a fair to be making for. Plus I’m developing another large scale public engagement project so much writing and fundraising to do – all worth it in the end!

How long have you been printmaking? 

I’ve been printmaking since 2006ish!

What inspires you?

Nature – British birds are just amazing – from their behaviour to the incredible colours and all right on our door step. Collaborating and sharing art with people is a vital part of my practice and makes my soul feel good!

What is your favourite printmaking product?

I am not brand loyal and tend to go with the cheapest and make things work in a very LO-FI way. Couldn’t be without a good sharp squeegee though – makes all the difference in pulling a good print.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

Well obviously my children are my greatest creation and the thing I am most proud of and always will be but if I think about my art that’s a very hard question – I really love my community work – it’s a joy to help someone else create – a project I did last year and intend to develop further was called Flocking – screen printing with members of the public in an empty high street shop to create huge fabric banners of flying birds – this year I intend to revisit the project and make it even bigger.

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

My work is stocked in a few gallery shops across the UK and online.

My biggest supporter locally is Arteria – a fab gallery shop in Lancaster. Artfinder is working well for me and Folksy has always been a great platform.

What will we be seeing from you next?

Well – big things – literally!– I’m developing my Flocking project further and intend to work with hundreds of members of the public and schools to print thousands of birds to fill the gallery room at the Storey Building in Lancaster.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Just do! The only way to learn is do it and make mistakes and try again. The only way to get your work seen is to just make the work and get it out there, be kind and generous to other makers and your audience because that’s the right way – life is not a race or a competition, it’s a journey and we all end up at the same destination so enjoy the ride because it should be fun and share the ride because that’s what it’s all about!

See and hear more from Jenny on her website, facebook or twitter.


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