Featured Artist: Lucie Green
Lucie Green is an established printmaker who regularly exhibits and sells her work, including at this year’s Royal Academy Summer exhibition. However she only started taking printmaking really seriously several years after leaving art college, having lived abroad and brought up a family. There has been a revival of interest in traditional printmaking techniques in recent years, and Fiona Gaskell finds out about a field that Lucie says is limitless in its possibilities.
Lucie says generously that everyone has it in them to be creative, and as a child she always found it easiest to express how she felt through art. She had a lot of encouragement from her father, who was an architect, and she went to Norwich and then Trent Polytechnic to study Fine Art. She went to Nepal with Voluntary Service Overseas and became fascinated by the Nepalese cultural traditions including prayer flags, which remain a strong influence in her art. “Nepal is in my psyche” she says, and her work on display at the Royal Academy is of a Nepalese potter.
In 2000 she started studying lithography at the University of Hertfordshire, and she hasn’t looked back since. “I really love my work” she says. “It is physically demanding but completely absorbing. Printmaking is where sculpture, painting, drawing and graphics all meet, especially in woodcuts.”
Expressionist art is another important influence on her art – she finds it very powerful. An exhibition of Chinese woodcuts at the British Library opened her eyes to different techniques and ways of printing, and in her work she aims to bring together these traditions.. The Chinese tradition is to use cutting knives to achieve results that are far more detailed and intricate than is usual in the West. Each cut has its own name in Chinese printmaking. While Japanese woodcuts are much admired in the West, Lucie says the Chinese work is distinct and of great interest, especially since China has become more open as a society.
“I treat printmaking like a painting” says Lucie. “There is a huge amount to printmaking and I am always learning new techniques and ways of working. Each surface has its own quality and the way it cuts.” Lucie has also been experimenting with zinc etching plates, cutting these with a hacksaw which she says is “jolly hard work”. They are then etched, and printed intaglio. This means working ink into them, then wiping away the excess ink, only leaving it in the recessed areas and printing on an etching press onto dampened paper
By contrast, relief work is the opposite. Here she uses woodcuts or linocuts, applies ink with a roller, and it is the proud surface that prints. In woodcut printing she cuts an image for each colour and gradually builds up the finished work. Printmaking is generally misunderstood, and Lucie is used to visitors to her studio asking “Can I have this in a larger size?” – which is obviously impossible.
Lucie draws inspiration from plants and flowers in her beautiful garden and the allotment. Bamboo is a particular favourite. “You can never do enough drawing from observation” she says, “and I aim to do it every day. I gave up my teaching/ technician job to concentrate on art, so I can commit myself fully to what I want to do.”
The work she is proudest of is the work that people seem to overlook. She gets a lot of pleasure from the works that are the most complicated to create, although she says she has a tendency to overdo them. She works in her home studio, which is designed for the purpose. She also goes to the University of Hertfordshire one day a week where there is open access to all the printmaking facilities she needs, with tutors on hand. On another day a week she goes to Dekkle printmaking studio in Baldock. Access to good equipment is obviously essential for printmaking, and she also has a small press at home. I am struck by Lucie’s self-discipline in her approach to her work, and by her commitment.
Exhibitions: Lucie has participated in Open Studios in the past, opening her home studio to visitors, but she found it very time-consuming and this year she is participating with a group of four other artists at Lourdes Hall in Harpenden on 20 and 21 September. She is a member of the Printmakers Council and a member of Southbank Printmakers; she exhibits in their gallery in Gabriels Wharf near the Oxo tower.
In late 2013 – early 2014 she exhibited at the University of Hertfordshire Eastern Approaches exhibition at St Albans Museum, where she won the Debenhams & Ottaway Prize. Her woodcut of the Nepalese potter is on display in room 2 at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in an edition of 10 prints. She also has work at the Art Dog gallery near Dulwich in London.
By FIONA GASKELL