We are delighted to interview our fellow Marian Hall, who is based at The Forge Studios in Digswell.
How would you describe your current practice (e.g. materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
My work is usually inspired by nature, often landscapes. When I start a new series of work, I explore ideas and design options in my sketchbook. Some of these ideas I interpret by dyeing, printing and stitching into fabric, others I will create on paper using printmaking techniques.
What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops, etc)?
I’ve been developing a series of textile pieces inspired by tyre marks in the snow, which created a pattern which looked strangely like a landscape. I didn’t expect it to inspire so much work and I am stitching into two (final?) pieces, which is a perfect activity for lockdown.
I have also created a number of prints for Digswell’s ‘In Our Garden’ exhibition which I based on rubbings taken from plants in my garden and I would like to develop those ideas further once we are able to reopen the Print Room at Digswell.
Prompted by the Welwyn Garden City centenary celebrations I had enthusiastically started researching aspects of local history with a view to creating a new body of work but for the moment this work is on hold as I feel the need to create work in response to Covid 19 and the lockdown.
What are your plans for the coming year?
With so many venues closed and the prospect of social distancing continuing for some time, plans for the coming year seem tentative at best.
I was due to have work exhibited in the Chaiya Art Awards in the Oxo Gallery, and to exhibit with fellow Digswell Artists at the Maynard Gallery and hopefully these will both still happen at a later date. I plan to submit a piece of my lockdown work to an online exhibition.
I am lucky that I have a dedicated space where I can work at home and even if I need to change the way I work, I will continue to create and learn new skills during this period.
What is the question you get asked about your work and how do you answer it?
I am often asked how I create the surface colour in my textile pieces and I do this by building layers of colour which have been either screen printed with thickened dye or painted on with liquid dye.
What or who inspired you to be an artist and why?
Far from inspiring me, my art teacher left me feeling that art wasn’t for me. It was only much later in life that I went on short textile courses in the local art shop, Art Van Go, that my interest in art started. It was my desire to be able to improve my design skills and to be able to work on my own that led me to enrol on a weekend City & Guilds course and this I did, whilst continuing my career in the corporate world. The tutor, textile artist Janet Edmonds, approach to art and design showed me new and inspiring ways to progress my art.
Which artist do you most admire and why?
The artists I particularly admire changes over time, probably as the focus of my work changes. At the moment I am enjoying researching the work of Idris Khan and his use of layering and lettering is inspiring the work I’m creating in response to the lockdown.
I find it particularly enjoyable when I unexpectedly come across an inspiring artist and I can tell by the length of time their books have been on my coffee book shelf, that two of these have an enduring appeal. One is the Korean artist Kwang Young Chun. I came across his work whilst walking past a London Gallery where his work was being exhibited. Another example is the Australian landscape artist Fred Williams, who was referenced in an article that I was reading and intrigued, I researched his work.
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?
I’ve only been a part of Digswell Arts a few months but I find it a very supportive and encouraging environment to work in and this is continuing even during lockdown, albeit not in person. I have particularly appreciated the discussions with the other artists and external supporters of the Trust who have made me think about my wider practice and where I want to take my artistic career.