Grace Edkins discusses her rekindling love for printmaking due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a world full of fear, Grace challenged herself during lockdown and now has an unprecedented love for the art of lino printing.
The artworld and where I began
My name is Grace. I am a full time Mum to two girls of two and five, living in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, UK. I began printmaking in college and loved it but decided to choose the ‘safer’ graphic design degree, which wasn’t right for me and really affected my confidence in my creativity.
This led me to working in recruitment in The City, possibly the least creative field I could possibly find. Fast forward over ten years, and five years of full time motherhood and my creative frustration has been simmering under the surface for a long time.
A few months ago I discovered lino printing again through a starter kit and I’ve been hooked ever since. Lockdown has really helped to turn printing into a full blown passion, having a new focus and outlet for my creativity has been so therapeutic. It has also given me a new found confidence in my abilities, if I can learn so much and build up my body of work whilst also staying at home with two small children all day every day, I can do anything.
My main inspiration is the natural world around me and its constant changes.
I always notice wildflowers, especially those that are technically weeds. I find it amazing that they seem to almost appear overnight and are gone within days. As though it was all just dream; questioning whether they ever existed at all.
These weeds used to pass me by before I started printmaking, it has given me such a connection to nature and where I live, boosting my mental health and my feeling of place in this chaotic world.
I am very inspired by the beautiful landscape where I live. My house overlooks the Thames Estuary in Leigh-on-Sea and I could spend hours staring out at the turning tide and the ever changing sky. A short walk takes me to the seafront with its beaches and salt marshes. I love studying the details in the natural forms of these environments and my inclination is always to go low to the ground to inspect something; to view the landscape through these details.
Focusing on the small details makes me feel connected. By focusing on the intricate marks on a shell and communicating those marks in a print focuses my mind and calms it.
The joys of lino printmaking
I love everything about printmaking. From the initial process of preparing for a print with sketching and ideas bubbling away in my head, to the therapeutic carving of the lino and using my hands skillfully. Getting lost in these stages. The magic and unpredictability of finally pulling a print, gives me a little sense of wonder when the first test print is revealed.
I have only touched the surface of lino printing; let alone relief printmaking and I look forward to trying out woodblock and wood engraving in the future and exploring my passions even more.
I am still, first and foremost a full time Mum so everything is done in the evenings once they are bed, until my youngest starts school and I can dedicate my days to printing. My ultimate dream would be to have a home studio, but until then I work on the kitchen table and keep all my printmaking equipment dotted around the house in free drawers and cupboards away from little curious hands.
Although I have learnt a huge amount in the last few months since I started printmaking I still very much feel like a beginner. I learn so much from other printmakers on Instagram who are so generous with sharing their knowledge and time, and this inspires me to do the same. If I can share a little something that has helped me which then helps someone else starting out their own printmaking journey I am very happy.