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MA Printmaking Q&A: Isabel Wilkinson

Isabel Wilkinson
Isabel Wilkinson

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Published date
13 July 2015

Graduating MA Visual Arts: Printmaking student Isabel Wilkinson has spent many hours working with a large planographic press followed by the use of a monoprinting technique to create her degree show piece. We met Isabel to find our more about her work for the MA Visual Arts Summer Show and her plans for the future.

Please tell us about your work for the degree show

I collect items such as fragments of stone and fossils from landscapes, and then use these – along with drawing and photography – to create new semi-imagined landscapes, informed by film, fiction and lived experience of place. My final piece is a series of seven large scale (60cm x 150cm) monotypes, placed side by side in a traditional frieze.

I’ve come from working on fairly small-scale screen prints to a ten-metre long monotype installation with sound… my work has come a long way! Jo Love, our course leader, has encouraged us all to be really ambitious with our work for the exhibition, and I think it shows.

I use a large planographic press in the lithography workshop to make these outsized prints. I coat a big plate with lithography inks, then make shapes out of newsprint and tracing paper and compose these on the plate. I cover this with my paper, then put it through the press – usually the result is unexpected and never the same, which is what I like about monoprinting. Despite the simplicity of this process, like a lot of printmaking processes it’s not as easy to get what you want as you might think, so the final prints in the show are chosen from dozens of experiments.

Isabel Wilkinson

The image above is the first print I made in the format I’m now working – it took me ages to build up to this point and when it happened it felt as if suddenly everything I was trying to say just came out: everything made sense.

Simon Burbidge, the specialist lithography technician, has helped me every step of the way in the execution of my work. The fact that he is very precise and encourages fastidious studio practice is fantastic – he makes you a better printmaker.

How do you feel about your degree show opening this week?

The show is an intense time, but for us it’s the culmination of so many agonising and joyful hours of making – it’s also a really proud moment seeing your classmates achieve what a few months ago might have seemed impossible or too ambitious, and that’s exciting. For people who have supported us along the way, it’s a great moment to show them that it’s all been worth it. For the local community too I think it’s interesting to see what goes on inside the college, and people seem to have a special fascination with print – they just love hearing about the processes and all the technical paraphernalia. Luckily for them we love talking about it too.

Do you have any recommendations of work visitors should see during the show?

Pauline Wood, who’s also on Printmaking, makes beautiful, mad, different and interesting work. I’m really excited to see what she exhibits, it will definitely involve concrete, beads, and fluorescent paint.

Pauline Wood

Work by Pauline Wood (MA Printmaking)

What your plans are after you graduate?

I will be 2015–16 artist in residence at AYYO Contemporary, culminating in a solo show. Working from my studio in Woolwich and exhibiting with contacts made at Camberwell.

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