My name is Margaret Mallows. Having loved drawing and painting from an early age, I was encouraged by artist Dennis Syrett to continue after leaving school at 16, and had work exhibited in The Mall Galleries in London for 2 consecutive years when still a teenager. A very busy work and family life put art on hold for more than four decades, and I started again about 4 years ago, teaching myself lino printing.
Describe your printmaking process.
Prints start from drawings or photographs. I decide how many prints I want in the edition, and first get the paper and registration board ready, lining up the blank lino onto the registration board by taping strips of card around the lino which will hold it in place when printing. Once I am happy with the image, I trace it and transfer to lino – I use the Japanese vinyl. Most of my prints are the reduction method with just one sheet of lino used for the whole print. The first layer carved will always be those areas of the print to remain white (or paper colour). Once the first colour is printed, more lino is carved away to leave behind the colour just printed, and the next colour applied. The process is repeated until the print is finished. By the end of the print, there may be very little lino left! I use Schmincke water based inks, they stay wet on the palette but dry quickly once printed, so I can always add the next colour without long waits for drying times. With most prints, I work from lightest colours first through to the darkest.
How and where did you learn to print?
I am self-taught; I bought a starter lino kit and book and from the very start I was hooked, I wanted to do more and learn more. It’s been a steep learning curve of trial and error, with many mistakes made and learnt from!
I have always liked hand-made prints, they have a unique quality all of their own and it’s an affordable way to own original art. I wanted to try it for myself, and since starting I’ve never looked back – I love the whole process.
Where do you work?
My prints are made in my home as I don’t have a studio. A study is used for drawing, carving lino and hanging prints to dry, and my kitchen/dining room is ideal for inking and printing – worktops are used for inking and the dining table is used to hold a removable a table top press.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
When I’m making a print it rather takes over my life – I will often start very early and work until I’m too tired to do more! Cups of tea sustain me throughout the day, and I like to end the day with prints hanging to dry in my study, ready to start carving the next layer of lino early the next day. Reduction prints require good concentration, so I try to remain fully engaged with a print until it is finished – and then take time to catch up with other things before starting new work.
How long have you been printmaking?
About 3 ½ years, and I now work full time at my printmaking.
What inspires you?
My garden and life around me and objects in my home. And sometimes other people’s photographs, used with their permission.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
That’s easy – Ternes Burton pins and tabs make registering prints simple, and with reduction printing the same print may go through the press many times – I’ve used up to 17 colours or more in one print, so any mis-registration could otherwise ruin the edition at any stage.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
My Sun, sea and shadows print. It’s not the largest or most complex I’ve made, but was still challenging. It’s a 13 colour reduction print, and getting the cutting and colours right was very tricky. Currently it is shortlisted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition, so fingers crossed the show goes ahead albeit late, and that the RA likes it! It can be seen on my Instagram page along with some work in progress of the making of it.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
My work can be seen in my Artfinder shop. Artfinder provides a global market place for my work and is run by a small, dedicated team of people. It is the first online art site I applied to, and having enjoyed consistently steady sales there ever since I’ve never felt the need to sell at another site – my work is now in 19 countries worldwide. I sell at local fairs as it’s nice to meet and engage with people, and also exhibit at curated exhibitions in London and locally when I am lucky enough to have work accepted.
Work in progress photos I usually post on my Instagram page @margaret.mallows
What will we be seeing from you next?
With a head full of ideas for new work, I never have any trouble wondering what to do next – just difficulty choosing which idea! And having just finished a print, I’m still undecided which idea to pick next.
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
Don’t be discouraged by failures or things not working as you’d hoped. Everything I’ve learnt has been a result of making mistakes! If you are struggling with any of the materials you have, try different ones – buy small amounts to try first to see if you like it. And ask advice from other printmakers, most happily share tips and advice.