Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Q & A with printmaker Janis Goodman

Perhaps typifying the handcrafted spirit that all our SAT 2012 artists and makers share, Janis Goodman creates intricate etchings on a old commercial printing press crammed into a corner of her own home!

Janis, who'll be exhibiting in 19 Ada Street, has been kind enough to answer some of our questions about her creative practice and motivations for applying to be a part of this years Arts Trail.

Tell us about the work you do and the types of materials you use.
I am a printmaker specialising in etching - a fairly elaborate process which involves copper plates and an etching press (think washing mangle but heavier). The copperplate is covered with wax, I scratch my design onto the wax and the lines are deeply "bitten" into the smooth surface of the plate by immersion into ferric chloride. The plate is then covered in ink, the ink must be pressed into each groove and then a sandwich of damp paper, the metal plate and woollen blankets are squeezed through the press's rollers to produce the print. Each one is original and slightly different from the next. The imprint of the plate can always be felt in the paper.

Where do you produce your work?
I have a studio in my house with my press in. It's a bit cramped as it's in a rather odd space which borrow light and air from the bathroom.

Does your working environment form part of the inspiration for your art?
Not very much usually though I do draw on the dense urban landscape of inner city Leeds where I live and work. However one recent print which I am showing in the Saltaire Arts Trail this year, is of my studio. Called "Bird on the press" it portrays an odd incident when I had opened up the bathroom and internal windows unusually wide. I had a potential buyer coming to see my work and I was keen to disperse "bathroom odours" ! Walking into the studio with the visitor, I found that a bird had flown in and was sitting on the press. Somewhat startled I closed the door and took the visitor to look at the print rack which was kept elsewhere. He revealed later that, given my interest in including birds in my etchings, he assumed that having one in my studio must be an everyday event. I immediately thought that it was a good subject for an etching but it has taken me three or four years to produce it. I had a lot of difficulty working out the composition of the scene and this was only solved by giving it a different viewpoint from the one I had seen in reality.

How did you get started?
I went to a general printmaking evening class at Leeds College of Art and Design and the etching process and potential results immediately fascinated me. I preferred it to all other forms of printmaking - not very sensible as it is the one which requires the most elaborate and expensive equipment.

What work will you be exhibiting at the Saltaire Arts Trail?
I will be showing mainly new work, which I have produced since last year's trail. I am working on my first etching of Saltaire. Unless something goes very wrong, which it occasionally does with etching, it should be finished in time for the Trail. As with much of my work it is not one of the more obvious views and features a perspective involving wheelie bins which seem omnipresent in Saltaire.

Where else can we see and buy your work?
You can buy it directly from me via my website and you are also welcome to visit my studio, by appointment, of course. Galleries in Yorkshire which hold my work include Leeds Craft and Design Gallery, Glasshouse Gallery in Leeds, the Gallery Masham, Zillah Bell in Thirsk and Art Parade in Saltaire.

What was it about the Saltaire Arts Trail that made you want to apply to exhibit?
It is a lively and popular weekend, the work is of a high standard and above all , it is run at a totally professional level. I am not saying this just to be nice but the efficiency and clarity of the whole operation is of huge benefit to the exhibitors, as it builds a large and enthusiastic audience for the Trail.

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