What a better way to end this month with a new post on the journal. I am happy to share my latest conversation with Sherrie-Leigh Jones, a virtual friend, artist and printmaker from Brighton. I have just realised that we've only started talking just over a year ago (I went back through all of our DMs ha) but to me it feels like we have known each other for a lot longer. Not only is she another meaningful connection made through the gram, like we speak on a weekly basis about everything and nothing, but she is also an artist I really admire too.
Can you tell us a little about your background and journey?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist, it’s the only thing I can remember wanting to do. When I was younger I used to go past the art college in my hometown on the bus to my nan’s house, and I used to think, I’m going to go there, and as soon as I left school I went straight to art college full time. I loved every minute of it and I got to experiment with a lot of different mediums and approaches to the art and design world. My final project was fine art based but I also enjoyed illustration and graphic design, and I’ve also always had a big love for interior design and architecture, so at one point I did consider going down the interior design route instead. When I left art college, I actually started a degree in illustration but didn’t stay on the course that long as it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and I felt a bit pigeon holed working to briefs. A while after, I moved to Brighton (15 years ago now!) to start a foundation degree in fine art where I experimented with different ways of working and printmaking again, particularly screenprinting as I really enjoyed the process - that’s when I really got into printmaking more and it became my chosen method of creating, so I then transferred onto the second year of the BA (Hons) Fine Art Printmaking course. After graduating I joined some local print studios and continued to work on my practice.
What does a working day look like for you? Do you have any rituals? How do you structure your day/week?
I would say no two days are exactly the same, but I do think it’s important to try and have some sort of routine. At the end of the previous week or at the beginning of the week if I didn’t get time, I will sit and write a to do list for the week ahead. I’ll have a look at what I have going on, deadlines etc. and then I will slot the jobs in on days according to how my week looks; whether I’m at the print studio, if I need to drop works off, any meetings etc. I try and stick to getting tasks done on my specified days but it doesn’t always pan out that way if things come up, so I do allow myself some flexibility. I tend to check my emails in the mornings and afternoons, and then work on collages for a good chunk of time, pack prints, go to the post office etc. in between.
What processes and materials do you employ when creating your art? How would you describe your artistic approach?
Naturally printmaking is quite process based, which means my approach is very process led. I will begin by taking photographs out and about on walks and on my travels, observing and documenting the landscape. Back in the studio I will then select images to dissect and collage together to create new imagined environments. Once I have my finished composition, I’m ready to take it to the print studio to expose on a screen. I expose and hand pull all of my prints myself, often printing with graphite powder onto Japanese papers and Somerset papers made at St Cuthberts Mill.
Do you approach each piece with a consistent structure? Or do you let yourself be open and free to what is to come?
I would say I do a bit of both. Generally though I do like to draw out a rough composition so that it guides me in which photographs to pick out from my library of source images. I don’t stick to it rigidly, it often changes as I add bits in and take elements away, new ideas form, so I do try and let myself be open and free. A piece I have just worked on, I didn’t draw a composition at all, I just drew some shapes that I knew I wanted to work with and wrote some words down that I wanted to resonate with it, but initially I find this way of working hard as I’m staring at a blank page with no visual reference, and I then don’t know where to begin with the source imagery that I’m using. If I work this way, I’m completely making the composition up as I go along and it can take a lot longer.
What have been the main challenges you've faced pursuing your practice?
I’m grateful to work with a lot of supportive galleries and art consultants etc. and I do think things are getting a bit better, but I still can’t help but feel that female artists have to work that bit harder for recognition.
Are you working on anything special or projects at the moment?
I’ve recently come back from a trip to Norway where I explored and documented the beautiful western fjords. It was a really inspiring trip and I’m using the photographs I took to create new collages that will evolve into screenprints. I’m really enjoying revisiting the landscape through my photos, it was truly serene and is something I hope to convey in the prints I’m currently working on.
How do you reconnect with yourself or your practice when life gets too full or overwhelming?
I’m obviously very inspired by nature, so I love to get outdoors for a walk. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by beautiful scenery where I live on the South Coast with the South Downs on one side and the sea on the other. Aside from art, my other big love is music and I love going to gigs and festivals in my downtime.
Head over to Sherrie-Leigh's instagram and website to discover more about herself and her beautiful work.