Meet the Printmaker:
We were looking forward to speaking to printmaker and ‘Essdee award winner’, Gilly Woodhead, to discuss how she got into printmaking and what inspires her work.
Introduce yourself and describe your style of lino printing
Hi, I’m Gilly Woodhead and I am a printmaker/artist based near Warwick. Originally I studied Graphic Design at Salisbury College of Art and worked for many years as a Graphic Designer.
Life became far too busy running around after children, dogs, horses, chickens and many other pets and I really didn’t have time to do anything remotely artistic for about 20 years!
I’m very much still finding my style. At the moment I think my style is quite ‘realistic’ but I want to develop and change this to a more pattern making approach. I think my graphic design background means I look for the patterns in nature and I’d like to explore and experiment with this more in the future.
How, why and when did you get into lino printing? and what inspires your work?
I feel like I am a bit of a newcomer having only discovered lino printing two years ago.
In September 2021 I went to an evening class for beginners in lino printing. I loved this so much that over the winter I must have studied every single YouTube video by Laura Boswell and subsequently signed up for one of her courses in March 2022.
These courses just ignited my passion for lino and gave me the basic skills to experiment at home. It’s incredibly addictive and I realised then it’s actually what I’ve always wanted to do in life – one of those bombshell moments! I do so wish I’d discovered printmaking earlier but as they say, it’s never too late!
My love for being outdoors,inspires me, whatever the weather, which probably comes from my many years of mucking out and riding horses every day in all weathers. When I’m not outdoors, I have binoculars at most windows to birdwatch in the garden or across the fields and I’m at my happiest in the woods walking the dog or sitting in the chicken run with a chicken on my lap.
Insects also inspire me, the iridescent dung beetles that I used to find when poo picking the horses field are absolutely stunning and we get so many bees in the garden – I could watch them for hours!
Also, it’s impossible not to be inspired by so many other incredible artists, galleries and exhibitions.
Where do you work? and what does your typical day look like?
Originally the kitchen table then spreading into and all over the sitting room!
Earlier this year we decided to demolish our rickety old garage and replace it with a lovely studio space. Its only just finished and I’ve just moved in with my magnificent new Gunning Etching Press! The press is a piece of art in itself and has already transformed the quality, size and capacity that I am able to print. It’s also fantastic to have a dedicated space that is full of light where I can escape and concentrate without interruptions!
I’d love to work 9-5 but that just doesn’t happen. Some days I’m just too busy, other days I’ll work in my studio until I can’t keep my eyes open. I love rainy days when I can just shut myself away and get down to carving and printing.
You have recently entered the ironbridge fine arts printmaking competition and exhibition 2023, what inspired you to do this?
I think Jenny Gunning mentioned the competition/exhibition when I bought my new press in May 2023 but at that stage I never thought I’d produce anything good enough to enter!
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE INSPIRATION FOR THE PIECE YOU ENTERED?
The colours of the bee on the globe thistle are what struck me initially and watching the bees crawling all over the flowers, completely and utterly absorbed in their work. Immediately, I could see the image in my head of what I wanted to portray – that one moment in time where the flower is literally ‘the whole world’ for the bee.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT AND WHY?
Winning the ‘Essdee Award’ in the Ironbridge Fine Arts Printmaking Competition.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PRINT THAT YOU HAVE MADE?
It has to be my bee print ‘On top of the World’, but I’m also fond of one of my earliest simple little prints of a snail as it sums up my speed of working!
What are you working on at the moment?
Too many pieces! A jackdaw, some brown trout and a partridge print to go alongside my pheasant print.
I have too many ideas and images in my head. I’m already thinking of the next print before I’ve finished the one I’m working on.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
Often an image of my next print just materialises in my head while I’m asleep! The hardest and most frustrating bit is recreating that image!
Do you have any top tips or advice for other lino printmakers?
Take your time planning, especially with reduction prints. I draw the image and then import it to Procreate on my iPad to experiment with colours, layers and fine tune.
Sharp tools are always a must and don’t forget to reverse your image!
where can we buy your prints?
Image credits: Gilly Woodhead
Got 5 minutes? Have a read of one of our other blogs for more inspiration!
How to create your own bespoke Christmas wrapping paperFollow this step by step guide to create your own christmas wrapping paper to make your gifts extra special! A great crafting activity to get you in the Christmas spirit. You can also use your unique...
Residencies for artists We were interested to talk to Artist Scarlett Rebecca about Residencies for Artists and her own experiences. Could you explain what a residency is and how you got one? Residencies are for artists to develop their practice through...
We were excited to speak to printmaker Dave Elsom from Sombreo Printmaking to find out about his style of printmaking, including how he got into printmaking, what inspires him and his recent exhibitions.
We were thrilled to collaborate with Printfest in Schools, a fantastic project which helps to inspire the next generation of printmakers.
In this article, Printmaker and Teacher Esther Benson, tells us all about the history of Prinfest in Schools, the printmaking activities that they have been undertaking in schools, and their plans for the future of the project.