Linocuts, fabric design, cooking and home
One school holiday when I was sixteen my uncle taught me silkscreen printing and I took to it immediately, starting my first business – screen printed shoulder bags for a travel company. I didn’t study art in high school or at university. In fact, I didn’t study printmaking either. I stumbled across an off-cut of lino on the art room floor in my last year of high school and kept it in my paint box at home.
Years later when I was pregnant with my first child, I pulled it out and sketched a little scene of my living room on its surface with a pen. I found a carving tool in my mother’s house and cut out the lines, brushed over the lino surface with some green fabric paint I had left from screen printing and pressed down a sheet of A4 paper to reveal a little picture. I didn’t realise, until I was exposed to the work of Margaret Preston, that you weren’t meant to cut out the lines but the spaces(!)
When my son Ben was 10 months old I went to live in Philadelphia. Distanced from my family and my career and feeling very isolated in my new role as mother, I found myself searching for something to fill the empty spaces in my day. In a back street in West Philly I found an art supply shop and purchased a set of ‘proper’ lino tools and a few sheets of lino. That night on my kitchen table, while my baby slept, I began to transfer the sketches from my journal across to this new medium.
Motherhood seemed to create the perfect environment for me to record my more personal creative side. It gave me the philosophical distance, emotional closeness and physical tiredness(!) to look at life from a different perspective.
I had plenty of time during the winter months in Philadelphia to think of Australia, and plenty of mixed emotions about motherhood and womanhood. As I recorded these moments I came to realise that perhaps other women shared these feelings too. As my observations became keener, a wry sense of humour seemed to rise from the silence carrying me from one lino to the next. The carpet was littered with lino cuttings and the sink was filled with ink and there was always a great sense of resolution when the first print was gently peeled off.
Ever since then I has been chipping away through the large and small events in my life, recording my thoughts, feelings and observations. The kitchen table is still the center of my creative space.
I love to create with a sense of my everyday world around me. My printing process is intentionally very low-tech and takes place in my kitchen. It’s such a wonderful contrast to my commercial career which uses well-refined, technology-focussed forms of creativity.