The Life that Springs

SPRING is (finally) in the air, with blackbird song filling the morning air and primroses everywhere. It’s also the theme of the new exhibition at Sladers Yard, West Bay, where The Life That Springs is a celebration of the art of the printmaker, running to 13th May.

The artists taking part, showing aquatints, carborundum, deep etching, linocuts, woodcuts and screen prints are Anita Klein, Fred Cuming, Martyn Brewster, Merlyn Chesterman and Sally McLaren. The exhibition also includes ceramics by the brilliant Japanese potter Yo Thom, who lives in north Dorset, and the resident furniture designer-maker Petter Southall.

Anita Klein’s prints express the pleasures of everyday life, those moments that make life worth living. Her easy style rings true and is brimming with joie de vivre. She studied at Chelsea and the Slade schools of art and is a fellow and past president of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers, with work in many private and public collections around the world, and including the V&A, the British Library and the British Museum. She divides her time between studios in London and Anghiari, Italy.

Fred Cuming (1930-2022), well-known from previous Sladers Yard exhibitions, devoted his life to capturing fleeting impressions of the world around him, the moods and atmospheres generated by landscape, still life or interiors. He often painted the south coast around Rye, where he lived for many years, and the Dorset coast which he visited frequently, often staying in Symondsbury. Born in 1930 in London he trained at the Sidcup School of Art between 1945 and 1949. After National Service he studied at the Royal College of Art for four years and was awarded the Abbey Travel Scholarship to visit Rome. In 1969 he was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Academy, becoming a full member in 1974, the youngest member ever elected. From 1060, he was also a member of the New English Art Club..

Martin Brewster has developed his own silkscreen techniques and makes relief prints and etchings in his print studio as well as teaching printmaking at Bournemouth College of Art. Recently he has been working with master-printer Andrew Smith to make multi-plate carborundum prints on the unique press Andrew had built in order to make Howard Hodgkin’s prints. Martyn has recently been elected to the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. Born in Oxford in 1952, he studied art and design in Hertfordshire and fine art (painting) in Brighton followed by a postgraduate diploma in printmaking. He has regular solo shows in London and throughout the UK as well as exhibitions in USA, Canada and throughout Europe and has work in private, public and corporate collections worldwide including the V&A and the British Museum.

Woodblock printmaker Merlyn Chesterman lives on the north Devon coast. Her work explores the natural world around her – the sea, waves crashing on rocks, the weather and windblown trees and grasses. Born in England, she grew up in Hong Kong, returning to England to study fine art at Bath Academy of Art and Bath University. She furthered her studies in China, at Guanlan Print Base, Shanghai, and at the Purple Bamboo Studio, Hangzhou. Merlyn is a Senior Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers and has written two books about woodblock printmaking with her colleague Rod Nelson. Her work is in many collections in Hong Kong and Bhutan as well as the V&A, the Ashmolean and West Dean College, where she taught for 20 years.

Wiltshire-based Sally McLaren gave the exhibition its title – she is, she says, “preoccupied by the life that springs in landscape, the spirit of it, the growth and organisms of centuries, the effects of wind, rain, sun and the marks left by man from past to present. Born in London, she studied at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, the Central School of Art in London and in Paris at the atelier of Stanley William Hayter. She taught at Goldsmith’s College of Art and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers, the Printmaker’s Council of Great Britain and the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers. She has work in collections around the world, including the New York Public Library, the Scottish Arts Council, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Cabo Frio Print Collection in Sao Paulo.

Yo Thom was born in Tokyo and came to England in 1996 to study 3D design at the Kent Institute of Art and Design. After her introductory year, she chose ceramics and completed an MA in 2000. While at the college, she also worked for Lisa Hammond at Maze Hill Pottery and continued her apprenticeship for a further two years after graduation. She set up her own first studio in Deptford in 2004 producing stoneware and porcelain tableware and some wood-fired pieces. She moved to Dorset in 2009 and has since had a family. She is an elected member of the Craft Potters Association and has exhibited widely throughout the UK. Her work draws on both Japanese and British pottery traditions and practices. Yo’s current work is inspired by her beautiful rural surroundings in combination with Japanese folk textiles called ‘Boro’. Her distinctive finishes are created using sgraffito techniques on an indigo slip partially covered with white glaze. Her pieces are functional and made to enhance food culture.

Petter Southall trained as a traditional wooden boatbuilder in Norway, at college, in apprenticeships and in a museum-based special legacy apprenticeship. He ran his own boatyard in Norway and worked in commercial boatyards in Maine. He studied cabinet making at the College of the Redwoods in Northern California followed by sustainable design with John Makepeace at Hooke Park College in Dorset. He has had his workshop in Dorset since 1991.

Pictured: Anita Klein, Evening in the Garden; Sally McLaren, Shadows, carborundum print; Yo Thom, ceramics, Vase, Tall Tsubo and Round Tsubo.