When I was working at the Mall Galleries there was also work on display in the Threadneedle Space as part of the Haworth Prize. The work in this part of the gallery was 12 shortlisted works from people under the age of 30 who work up in the northern part of the country. The work on display was all very different but one that appealed to me was by the illustrator and printmaker Simon Lewis. His work ‘The Headrow’, a vibrant screenprint that captured the busy environment of a street. I was struck by this piece in particular because of the process and a way part of the print has been drawn. There was a lot of detail in the architecture and people and this created a really interesting narrative. His work has inspired me to push my line drawings further by including a more variety of mark-making to create more interest in what I am drawing and adding more texture to the work.
Find more about the Haworth Prize at: http://www.mallgalleries.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/haworth-prize
I contacted Simon, as I was interested to find more about his practice and his interest in printing.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere really. I draw lots of buildings and street scenes, so it tends to be things I walk past regularly and then I gradually decide it’d be interesting to draw. I tend to like things that are neglected or a bit shabby, faded grandeur, brutalism architecture and buildings that are earmarked for demolition. And people too, there’s no shortage of inspiration when I’m walking around town and just watching the range of people going past. There are always a lot of images I’ve got planned in my head to do next.
How important is drawing to your practice?
Either from sketching or doing detailed fine line work, drawing is the most important factor in my work. My current style is to do detailed fine line drawings that I then screenprint, this is the longest part the process as I’m essentially doing 4 quite large drawings for each print. I then combine and prepare them digitally before printing them, but I’d say the drawing part takes about 70-80% of the time. It’s also the most relaxing and enjoyable part of doing it too.
What is it about printmaking that you like?
I like the way you work with your hands, and how you end up with a physical piece, I like the textures you end up with, sometimes the accidents that occur and the freedom to experiment it gives you. I like the history behind some of the processes and how old some of the printing presses are, generally the whole feel of a workshop when you're printing– the sounds, smells, noises etc.
'Proctor Street' 2006. Drypoint etching with spraypaint.
What artists do you take inspiration from?
A lot of different artists and illustrators inspire me regularly, one's I see locally in exhibitions and in magazines, online etc. Ones I tend to come back to are Van Gogh for his use of colour, impressionists such as Pisarro, railway posters by Frank Henry Mason and also the old detailed etchings of street scenes by people like Gustave Dore.
'Covent Builders', 2005. Drypoint etching with Spraypaint
Describe a regular day for you in the studio?
I'd love to have a studio! I'm not a full time artist so a regular day for me is going to work and then doing some drawing in the evening on the dining room table once the kids are in bed. When it comes to printing there's a local printmaking workshop I use.
How does it feel to have tour work shown in the Mall Galleries?
It feels good to be shortlisted for the award and to have it exhibited in such a prestigious gallery. I'll enter again next year so fingers crossed I'll be back again.
You can view more of Simon's work by clicking on the following links:https://www.facebook.com/simonlewisillustrationhttp://simonlewisillustration.tumblr.com
All images in this blogpost are from Simon's website which can be found at: http://www.simonlewisillustration.co.uk
I appreciate and thank him for giving me permission to use these images and interview him.