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In Converstation with: Lesley Harry

On Wednesday I was very fortunate to meet up with Printmaker Lesley Harry. I have admired her work for a year or so now. I first saw it when the John Howard Print studio had their exhibition at the Crypt in St Ives. This is the first time I've done one of my artist conversations face to face. This was a hugely beneficial thing to do as not only was I able to see her work first hand but I was able to have more of a dialogue going where we would bounce ideas off what each other was saying.

She first showed me a range of her sketchbooks. This was great because there were some from 2007 up until now so it was great to see how her style had changed and developed. Her use of mark-making is so fluid and captures the cornish landscape. She described her way of drawing as a way of visualising and capturing an essence of the place/environment she was in. This is reflected in the size of sketchbooks she has. She carries around small sketchbooks and often is moving while she draws. This means she has to pick out the key components of the scene and choose what to document to emulate the space.

This is something that Lesley has inspired me to do. Since coming back from Tresco I have wanted to draw outside more to become more confident with it, but working smaller and more quickly will make me look at what i'm drawing in a new way.

Lesley's work is recognisable because of the velvet qualities of her printmaking. She also has her own distinct visual language when it comes to drawing. This is what I really admire about people who have an array of mark-making skills. It is almost like another handwriting. She has her own visual language for describing cliffs, rocks and trees which people recognise.

She also showed me how she uses photography within her practice to capture things which people often overlook. We looked at photographs for a current project she is working on with another Cornish Artist under the theme of Flow. She uses a viewfinder to observe and break up the composition until she finds an area she thinks works. This is something I want to try more with texture photographs I use. It makes you appreciate every aspect of what you're looking at.

Lesley and I also talked about our love of the Printmaker Katherine Jones. It was great to talk about what we both got from her as an artist. For me it is her sense of structure and giving space a new meaning within the composition. Although Lesley and I both agreed the way she works with colour is so clever.

She was also kind enough to show me some of her etching plates. This was really interesting as I think these are a piece of work in their own right. 

We then made our way back to John's studio where Lesley was creating editions of her work. While I was there I got to see the new studio/gallery space in his print studio. There was work on display from printmakers and artists who use his work-shop. 

I want to thank Lesley for her time and for motivating me to continue with print-making and finding new ways to introduce it into my practice. I wish her all the best with her current project and look forward to seeing the outcome of it.


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