Jonathan Emmerson is our artist of the month and is a Print member based at the Forge.
How would you describe your current practice (eg materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
I’m a print member at The Forge, Digswell – I work mainly in relief printmaking lino and woodcut.
I work as an illustrator as well as making my own personal work. I have a range organic fabrics inspired by nature and natural history. I also have an organic clothing business Custard Cravings.
What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops, etc)?
I’ve just completed a children’s natural history book called ‘Above Below and Long Ago’ with natural history writer and broadcaster Michael Bright, published by Wayland. The book explores wildlife in hard-to-see places, celebrating the natural world from past and present – everything from a high-altitude mouse to a subterranean salamander.
I’ve loved the challenge that each illustration presents working within the constraints of the linocut medium and trying to get into the animal/plant world to add that bit extra.
What are you plans for the coming year?
In the print room I’ve got some plans for some larger scale linocuts I’d like to make this summer and I’d also like to try out some lithography techniques.
I’m looking forward to working on some illustrations for singer songwriter Pokkisham https://www.facebook.com/pokkishammusic/
And just lots of drawing/research and getting out and seeing things.
What is the question that you most get asked about your work?
I get asked about techniques a lot which is always nice to talk about with printmaking.
Who or what inspires you?
Apart from the looking at bugs and plants etc I’ve been listening to a lot of science programmes and science fiction dramas including The First Animals lectures at Oxford University Museum of Natural History unfortunately I didn’t get to see the exhibition.
Which artists do you most admire and why?
It does change but Illustrators I always go back to are John Burningham, I love ‘Borka’ it’s still my favourite book and Brian Wildsmith.
Gordon Mortensen, I was lucky enough to go to Seattle before lockdown and visit Davidson Galleries they’ve got a lot of his work and they very kindly let me look at lot of his woodcut prints. https://www.davidsongalleries.com/collections/gordon-mortensen
Other artists would be Anni Albers, Tadek Beutlich, Alexis Rockman, Vespertine (Sam Wilde).
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?
Learning and being inspired by the other artist and printmakers at the Forge. Obviously this was harder last year but it’s great to have other creative people around making things it pushes you to try different things.
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