Image: Hester Cox: A Winter Walk
Wild Print Exhibition
6th November 2021 - 19th February 2022
This Winter get carried away to the places talented printmakers Hester Cox and Niamh Geraghty-Morris explore. A deep love of their surroundings are brought to life by their wonderful printmaking allowing the viewer to reflect on their own relationship with nature.
Hester has a BA (Hons) in Illustration and is a fulltime artist specialising in printmaking. She works from her studio in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. With a lifelong interest in natural history, she aims to draw attention to chance encounters with wildlife, seasonal changes in the landscape and our relationship with nature. "There is a lovely mix of careful planning and serendipity when you make collagraph prints. The plate making is a craft in its own right and you are only limited by your imagination and what materials you can physically get through the press. "
"My printmaking is informed by my surroundings and wherever I am I seek out evidence of the natural world that is particular to that environment. I have spent most of my working life living in rural places and I am fascinated by the rhythms and cycles that occur within nature. Whilst an idea may be sparked by the written word, it is invariably my physical experience of a place that inspires a new piece of work. As a fell runner, my excursions often take me to wilder less visited locations and I am outdoors in all weathers. The physicality of running combined with the solitude and necessary awareness of my immediate environment creates a visceral connection with the landscape that lasts long after I have returned to the studio. I run all year round and I particularly enjoy running in the snow during the winter months. I’ll often spend time following animal tracks in the snow and there are a surprising amount of foxes in the area! I’ve been fortunate to see a few as they trot along the paths or climb over the drystone walls. I’ve even come across a few fox cubs playing amongst the limestone. The Huntress was inspired by finding the beautiful barred tail feather of a merlin amongst a pile of linnet feathers at the base of a drystone wall. It was pretty clear what had happened and it immediately conjured images of the sharp-eyed falcon that nests in that area."
"Revisiting the same areas repeatedly provides me with the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the more elusive birds and animals that inhabit these environments. It is these chance encounters that I find most exciting and that will often be translated into print. In the last couple of years I have found myself becoming fascinated by large groups of birds and the way that they can cluster together in great clouds but somehow manage to twist and turn as one without ever crashing into each other. I love the distinctive shapes of birds on the wing and the way that, as the years pass, I can recognise many species by their silhouettes alone. Murmurations of starlings, flocks of crows and flights of swifts are compelling to watch. I invariably carry a camera to record details or to act as a memory prompt and I sketch and write notes to distil my ideas. I also collect things that I find along the way such as bird eggshells, feathers, bones and skulls, stones and plant material. Some of these might end up as inspirational objects in my studio and some will find their way into a piece of work. The collagraphs that I’ve selected to show are all inspired by actual wildlife encounters here in the Yorkshire Dales. Curlews and Cotton Grass is one of my latest collagraphs featuring my local hill, Pen-y-ghent, and the beautiful curlews that come to breed here every year. Hearing the first bubbling call of a curlew in late February is so uplifting and a seasonal marker for me. It reminds me that winter is almost over and spring is coming."
Niamh studied three dimensional design metals at the University of High Wycombe and then went on to specialise in silversmithing and jewellery at the University of Plymouth. She is a member of the Double Elephant printmaking workshop in Exeter and the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. Her work as a printmaker is informed and influenced by her training and experience as a silversmith, often using the same tools to transfer the fine skills of etching and engraving precious metals to the printing block to create an image on paper. From her studio in Devon, where coast, moor and riverside are on her doorstep, she makes small editions of handmade prints and books. “I combine drypoint and woodcut techniques with monoprinting to create a painterly quality to my prints, so each in the edition will vary slightly and be unique. I love the slow process of cutting the wood, creating small intentional marks that will begin as a suggestion of the image and then to combine these marks with the less predictable fluidity of monotype, layering colours to create a richness and depth to the printed image.”
“My work responds to the love of my surroundings, nature, intricate details noticed and moments captured. It is a contemplation on ecology and our relationship with our environment. With a desire to evoke and convey the sense of a place, my prints start as sketches, a found object, a leaf, a stone, a record of the smells of the river, the sound of grasses in the breeze, the fading winter light on a hedgerow.”