A tunnel of greenery stretching ahead up a steep hill. The high banks of the road verdant, dotted with bright red spikes and dappled with leafy sunshine. This is Water Lane in Golant, Cornwall. As we wander up the hill, I pick a few of the plants - a Hart’s Tongue Fern, a Common Polypody, a spike of Lords and Ladies. Back in the studio (the kitchen of the delightful cottage we have rented) I make a flat-lay of my little collection - with a few other locally found treasures, and paint a watercolour. The time spent absorbed in the activity, observing each element, is part of the process of creating a sense of place.
The series consists of silkscreen prints inspired by the watercolour paintings I have made in different locations. Places we know and love, places near and far. Dartmoor has featured twice so already. We usually spend Easter near Chagford, a beautiful little market town about half-an hour from Exeter on the Moor. The richness of the hedgerows, with their luscious reindeer moss and bursting buds is always refreshing after a long Winter. The smell of gorse is heaven with its coconutty fragrance - all the better breathed in deeply as a sky lark trills its magical, ascending song.
Seaside visits are important to us. Menabilly beach in Cornwall is the subject of another print - just a few 100 meters away from Daphne du Maurier’s house, the inspiration for Manderley in Rebecca. The beach is only reached after a 10-minute walk down an unmade track and is a quiet, sheltered spot with flat rocks and good stretches of sand. What’s more, it’s dog friendly all year - important when we have out trusty hound Pesto, with us.
I use each watercolour to create the separations for my prints. I devise a colour palette and then paint an overlay for each colour on True-Grain, a kind of drawing film. Exposing this onto a treated screen results in a stencil. Most of my prints use 9 or 10 colours - so I make 9 or 10 screens for each print. I use transparent inks so that where they overlap secondary and tertiary colours are created - always with a bit of an unpredictable outcome.
Over the next few years I intend to continue growing the series as I visit and re-visit some of the special destinations that really give me a Sense of Place.