April saw the opening of our major Hilary Paynter exhibition, showcasing a vast body of work from one of the UK’s leading wood engravers.
We asked Hilary, Past President of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, for an interview…
How would you describe the current UK printmaking scene?
I think the current state of printmaking today is very healthy. In part, this is because it is accessible to a great many people to learn and practice and also because it is generally more affordable than paintings.
Who are some of your favourite artists and printmakers and why?
One of my favourites is Barbara Rae. I think her work is spectacular and saturated in vibrant colour, probably because I work mainly in black and white.
How has printmaking evolved as your career has developed?
My own work has become freer. I am more confident about working directly on the block, often with a rudimentary drawing and developing the image as I work (though I usually have a strong impression in my mind – often developed over time). Having a finished design before I start means that the engraving would be fairly mechanical for me.
You often take on socio-political themes in your work- how important are these themes today and why?
I am interested in a wide range of topics and subject matters. Engravings take a long time so I need to be fully engaged with what I am working on. I usual have about six – sometimes as many as 10 – blocks in progress at any time and shift between them as ideas develop and details become clear. Before 2000, I was working full time initially running a Special Needs department in a London Comprehensive school then as an Educational Psychologist. The politics was bound to leak out!
What are your plans next?
I organise the annual exhibition tour of the Society of Wood Engravers and will be going to Orkney and Aberdeen. I have a small exhibition in London based on my Legal London engravings. I am also involved with the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and will have work in several of their exhibitions this summer.
Hilary’s work on show at the RBSA showcases a variety of the subjects and is a true and full showcase of a career’s worth of work, and many of the works are for sale.
If you want to know more about the way Hilary produces her prints, come along to her exhibition at the RBSA, running until April 21.
Or pop by on Saturday 14 April to see the accompanying print demonstration – remember that there is no need to book.
You can read more about Hilary Paynter at http://www.hilarypaynter.com
By Beth Talyor, RBSA volunteer