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Grace Hailstone

Along with a spirit of adventure, what motivates me is discovering forms in the natural world and the elements that shape our experiences of the landscape. I would say that I approach making art with a Romantic sensibility; I enjoy being in a solitary state to be able to connect with and appreciate nature. My photographs become a record of a moment in time and reminders of the great sublimity of the natural world, and through printmaking I can process my emotional responses to this with colour, texture, form and layering.

Rather than a particular series, the work here is part of an ongoing exploration into how I respond to, and remember, extraordinary places and natural forms. I have been exploring mostly texture and form, and themes of growth in nature and the layering of time emerge as I reflect on the work. Specifically, these works reference the landscape in Iceland after I visited twice in the last few years. A seemingly “otherworldly” landscape of largely uninhabited terrain, Iceland is visually stunning at first glance, before even considering the monuments of nature it beholds. Black sand beaches contradict our visual understanding of the world we usually see on a visceral level. The moon glows large and the light fades gradually turning the sky from blue to orange to black.

Rock formations tell a tale of movement and energy from past volcanic eruptions and there is much physical evidence of the layering of time in the cliffs and other geological forms there. In Iceland, there is a surface level of stillness while what lies beneath is stirring. It is an unnerving place; there is the prospect of nature’s moods that have the potential for erosion and chaos, while at the same time, is breathtakingly calm and sublimely beautiful.

I like to feel isolated from everyday life and in a calm and open state of mind when I’m creating. I like to see elements of the earth’s landscape I’ve never seen before. The direct sense of discovery makes me question a connection to my own inner landscape in some way, or even a reflection of a part of myself.

Using film photography, I find moments in the landscape and natural forms which can later be used to inform my printmaking. With this collection of source material and after a time of contemplation on these photographs, printmaking is then a way for me to discover my images.

Printmaking is very process-based and there is always an element of unpredictability to it, which I embrace. I am very interested in monoprinting and etching. Monoprinting can create direct textural marks – you can use found objects or materials – and etching has a quality of line you can’t replicate, as well as a deep tonal range with aquatint.

With linocut there is also the potential to explore texture as I have done in my work ‘Column Pyramid’ where I etched one layer of the lino plate then printed in grey. There is a dialogue between the image and myself, and I seek to find my response to my experiences in the work as it develops by experimenting with materials and each impression taken by the printing press. On the plate you are working in reverse, so one has to be open to possibilities while making a print; you rediscover and reconfigure your intentions as you go. There is a transformation, or translation, taking place – what stays with me and what emerges in the image are the essential elements of my experiences, conveyed by mark-making, colour and texture.

Often, I complete work months or even a years after visiting a place. The memories of it inhabit my thoughts and take time to settle into my consciousness where, through my imagined recollections, it develops and transforms into a tangible artwork in the studio. As the artist Paul Klee famously said, “art does not reproduce the visible, but makes visible.”

I am a London-based artist specialising in printmaking. My work is rooted in the subject of surreal landscapes, often inspired by caves, volcanic sites and imaginary landscapes. I explore personal experience of places – both in real and imagined existence – through printmaking. / @graciehailstone

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