Between 23-28 November 2021, Bankside Gallery and Eton College are bringing together a selection of works from Eton’s artists in residence in the exciting Art Makes Art exhibition.
Three of Eton College's artists in residence taking part in this forthcoming exhibition are members of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE) - Ade Adesina ARE, Anne Desmet RA RE and Katherine Jones RE. Given that we regularly exhibit RE members' work at Bankside Gallery, we were rather excited about this crossover! In the lead up to the exhibition we have run a short series of interviews with Ade, Anne and Katherine to find out a little more about their life and work, and hear all about their time spent as artists in residence at Eton College.
The first in our series is Katherine Jones RE, an artist who works in painting, installation, book arts and printmaking. Her prints are a beautiful mix of collagraph, intaglio, aquatint and block print with translucent gradations of colour that convey atmosphere and light. Her work is becoming recognised for its strong iconography, its depiction of light, its sense of scale, and its sheer technical brilliance..
Interview: Matilda Barratt in conversation with Katherine Jones RE.
Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your practice?
I am a visual artist working with printmaking and related media. I am also a mother of two small boys and a part time university lecturer.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? What are your earliest memories of creativity?
Yes I always was an artist I don’t think I had much choice. I have never thought of it as having been a decision. It has always been something I do (maybe that has something to do with not being very academic) and work and life has revolved around it - although it hasn’t always been the most sensible way of earning a living.
Tell us a bit about your creative process…
The process from beginning to end of a project varies, but the last two or three have begun with reading, listening, writing and scatty lists and notes. Some things stick. Some things don’t. The things that stick filter through a process of making multiple sketches in watercolour and graphite. Finally they are translated into plates and then prints.
What is it about printmaking – and collagraph in particular – that fascinates you? What first attracted you to the medium?
Within the cannon of intaglio printmaking, Collagraph is such an instant, direct form of printmaking. It uses humble materials, sand, card, etc and doesn’t require elaborate studio equipment other than the etching press to process the plate. It is also tactile, requiring the artist to translate tone into texture and the sensual experience of drawing, painting, inking and printing the plate to is addictive in itself.
You will be exhibiting in Eton College’s forthcoming exhibition Art Inspires Art at Bankside Gallery. Could you tell us about your experience being an artist in residence at Eton College?
It was a very enjoyable experience. The setting and the facilities are fantastic and the studios are open late. A residency gives you a bit of space to focus. In this case I was completely out of my comfort zone in an environment I was unfamiliar with, having been to an alternative school as a child (more tie-dye than tail-coats). It is a good thing for an artist to gain a new perspective on the world this way and it temporarily, completely changed my work.
And we’d love to hear more about the work that you will be showing in the exhibition…
Two of the prints I will be showing are very straightforward sugar-lift sketches onto Zinc. They are a record of the huge and now defunct figure of 8 open air swimming pool at Eton College. In its heyday the pool was state of the art (I’m told it was used as a navigation aid for aeroplanes due to its size) but it eventually began to leak and the damage was irreparable. Now it is drained and wildlife is taking over.
Do you keep a sketchbook? Is drawing an important part of your day-to-day life as well as your practice?
Yes, although the drawings often don’t relate to the work I’m making. They are a tool to keep my eye in, and to practice looking. They are also a document of bits of time like diaries, a record of the kids as they grow up and so on.
Over the past 18 months or so, it has been interesting to see so many people turn to creativity as a means of getting through. Have you found that your relationship to drawing and printing changed at all over this period?
Yes absolutely, it changed my perspective. I thought that nobody would buy work from now on and that made me rethink and make work exactly as I wanted it rather than taking galleries and exhibitions into account. I worked in the evening after homeschooling much faster, larger and looser than before and it was liberating.
What role do you think that art – and artists – will play in our ‘post-lockdown’ world? (I use this term lightly!)
The inverse of what we all imagined at the beginning of the pandemic is true. People have a newfound respect and interest in art and artisanship in all its forms. Working with your hands and stretching your brain in ways that don’t conform to often rigid professional lives is perhaps more important now than ever.
Finally, what would be your advice to aspiring creatives who feel that a career in the art world seems out of reach?
Keep working, keep communicating, try to find and support the people who inspire you, follow your nose and take opportunities when they arise.
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