Mary Down – featured artist of the month May 2021

Written by Forge

On May 8, 2021

Mary Down 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 very fortunate to be a member of the Print Group at The Forge in Digswell where I have access to 
the Print Studio once a week. Here I am able to experiment with less or non- traditional ways of print 
making as well as more traditional relief and intaglio methods. Recently I’ve been using flattened 
grocery packaging as a print matrix or printing plate. I also use, as a printing surface, flattened lead 
sheet from 3D pieces I make.  Many of my prints are made into ‘one off’ artist books. So while I work 

across many disciplines there is an interrelationship between the totality of my practice. 

What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops, etc)?

The restrictions around the pandemic have affected opportunities to exhibit work this past year 
resulting in shut down and cancelled opportunities.  I am currently working on submissions for 
exhibitions which hopefully may take place later this year.  I’ve also spent more time making books 
and having shown them on an online ‘handmade artist book’ site have  sold a couple to a book 
collector in the US. 

What are you plans for the coming year?

I am hoping to be able to spend more time in the print studio at The Forge and hopefully in the 
company of fellow printmakers! They are a very supportive and inspiring group and whilst Zoom 
meetings have been very welcome I have missed actually working alongside them and the other 
artists at The Forge. 

What is the question that you most get asked about your work?

Print makers are almost always asked about ‘how’ work is made and whilst I’m always happy to 
answer technical questions its much more interesting, though much more difficult, when asked 
about the why’. 

Who or what inspires you?

So often new work comes out of previous work and ideas.  When things are going well, a flow of 
creativity from one piece or body of work on to the next.  I do remember being told, as a young 
student, “Inspiration? Work comes out of work.”  

Which artists do you most admire and why?

So many and all for very different reasons.  Random names come to mind, Susan Hiller, Prunella 
Clough, Gwen John, Fra Angelica, Makoto Fujimura, Johannes Vermeer, Eva Hesse, Phyllida Barlow, 
Himid Lubiana. 

How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?

Being part of Digswell Arts has given me a place in a supportive community of fellow artists. I am 
also very appreciative of the encouragement and the mentoring opportunities which have been 
open to me through the support of the Trust. 

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