I’m not keen on interviews that start with ‘I caught up with Dorothy Godfrey-Pemberton as she smoked her third cigar of the day enjoying a glass of Sunny Delight.’ Nonetheless, ‘catching up with’ is a fairly basic requirement for anyone who wants to talk with Printmaker Shirley Scott who is always on the go. A VW van parked outside Shirley’s studio workshop bears the ‘Handprinted’ company logo but Shirley admits that the van is less for advertising and more as an efficient place to sleep when on one of her round-Britain trips, working, educating and visiting anyone and everyone interested in printmaking.
Shirley’s working life is divided between her own artistic work, and running Handprinted – the company she set up in 2003. ‘I came to printmaking after working in Fashion and then after retraining, I worked as a teacher of textile printing and dyeing in Adult Education’. The shop and studio are an extension of Shirley’s own creativity, where studio space and printmaking presses and materials can be used either by individuals, with one-to-one tuition or on many of the courses and workshops. A whole host of the great and the good of the printmaking world make their way as guest lecturers / demonstrators / teachers and encouragers to Shripney Road in Bognor Regis to teach and inspire the novice and the experienced printmaker alike. Originally the Handprinted shop specialised in printmaking and dyeing for textiles, but with the 146th and current ‘renaissance’ in printmaking more generally, the company now embraces all forms of printmaking and all requisite materials.
‘The Handprinted studio is upstairs from the shop where we teach a variety of courses and it is also used by a selection of artists, including myself, to create their own work’. The fact that Shirley sees her own personal studio-time as important is indicative of her desire to keep her feet firmly on the ground and not entirely into teaching at the detriment of her own work. ‘This is not simply because I would miss producing my own work. We need to use, understand and be passionate about the materials we sell if we are to genuinely be of support to our customers’
‘Printmaking is becoming more accessible. With small portable presses starting at around £100 and nontoxic methods and materials, printmaking is no longer out of reach. There is a real growth of interest in printmaking at the moment – people are making prints using all sorts of things including Manhole covers – google ‘Raubdruckerin’ and you will see what I mean. Printmaking is often far friendlier and less highbrow than other art forms. Craft as a whole is finally becoming respected and seen as more current and less ‘WI crochet’ and ‘decoupage’ than it has been in recent years. I also feel that as life has got so busy the social and mental benefits of being creative are becoming more valued and realised, we certainly have that feedback from our regular customers’
Support of social media by artists and the instant answers that can be found and shared so quickly and YouTube clips have taken some of the mystery of ‘doing’.
It’s a really good time to be involved in printmaking!
Shirley can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org