Liam has a relaxed and creative teaching style and likes to spend one to one time with his students. There is music playing in the background and it adds the right ambience for an Autumn workshop. “Music is so important to the creative process” Liam confides. It doesn’t stop the conversation though – students and tutor maintain a constructive dialogue throughout the day, comparing papers, linens, inks and techniques.
All of the students on today’s workshop have discovered and developed new ways of working in monoprint – with and without a press. With each design, Liam has given them tips and advice to enhance and develop the artistic outcomes further. They are all lost in their designs when I come into the room; some at the press and some at their workstations. Some holding up plates to the light to inspect the colour and some arranging pieces of foliage or collage onto new printing plates. As Liam asks the class to join him in another demo, they come together to watch the next technique as a group and leave their current solitary creations alone for a while.
“Mono-print is almost like a build up to something bigger – a testing ground for future designs on fabrics and heavy archival papers, although some artists use mono-print as an art form in its own right” Liam explains. “The workshop today is all about creating an experimental body of work. Then it’s up to each student how they take it forward”.
During the first half of the workshop, the students learned how to prepare hand-drawn sketches for printing as above, and then how to run stencils through the press too (see below). Almost anything could be used in the stencilling process and today the students were practising with feathers and foliage, some from the school gardens.
Added textures from hessian and webbing gave a new dimension to the finished work. In fact as I picked up a length of thread from the floor, one of the students said “don’t throw it away – it might end up in a print shortly!” They are printing onto a range of papers and fabrics. There’s a lovely loud rip as Mandy tears off a nice square of 12 ounce linen for her next design incorporating a collection of Ginkgo Biloba leaves.
Liam demonstrates a more abstract technique as students move into the second half of the workshop. Using first a blue roller with Caligo ink, he applies a thin layer to the printing plate. He wants to show the students how to push the ink around a bit more, so he adds a small scrape of red across the blue and continues to spread this with the roller, so the colours are blending in parts but also keeping their own distinct hues in others.
Then Liam picks up a palette knife and scrapes some of the paints away in abstract marks, leaving sharp bold lines. He takes more paint off with a cotton bud and a rag, creating softer marks and effects on the plate. Finally, Liam adds the lightest dusting of French chalk, often used in the printing process to clean up tools and equipment. Grease and print don’t mix well, so the French chalk neutralises the grease. The French chalk itself acts as an abstract stencil where it falls on the plate. It leaves a bright white highlight, and the result is almost three dimensional. This is when you realise that it will be impossible to replicate this type of work – each mono-print piece is unique.
Liam is a fine art printmaker based in Oxfordshire. He has been running printmaking outreach workshops for around 11 years and specialises in etching and screen printing. After his BA he went to Kingston University where he completed his MA in Fine Art & Printmaking. Alongside running workshops he works as a tutor and technician, working with the creative arts students at Westminster University both in the 3D workshops and print studio. When he is not teaching he pursues his own studio practice.
Liam has a huge passion for travel and exploring new places and his etchings and screen prints are based around this theme. He has been inspired to take up the art after inspecting the work of Robert Rauschenberg.