I started taking series of photographs of Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne years ago. I have spent more time in the Ouseburn Valley, and become a lot more involved in it, over the past few years. I started making a series of linocuts of the animals at Ouseburn Farm, but had to pause when I ran out of paper and found the cutting of the lino was too tough for me. I hope it is a temporary pause. I have continued to think about the valley and trying to pluck up courage to try drawing outdoors in charcoal and Conté the great viaducts crossing it. also trying outdoor, Low-tech plant outdoor printing such as my friend Stef Mitchell does is something else I would like to try (she prints in the studio too), though I doubt I would ever produce anything as wonderful as her work.
When I saw that Theresa Easton was inviting people to take part in an Ouseburn Community Art project, I was keen to get involved even without knowing much more than it would be about Ouseburn and that Theresa was leading it. It is just a couple of hours a week, based at Ouseburn Farm. When I saw a block of clay looking like a big brick, and some examples of fired bricks that had colours on or had been carved, I knew I would enjoy this project. Theresa explained that we would learn some printing techniques and make books in which to keep our prints and ideas. She showed us examples – all lovely objects.
We had a little time to try out some printing before the end of the session. I was put off printing at school because of the fumes and difficulty of cleaning up when printing with traditional oil-based inks. I also saw it as a medium that required precision. Thanks to Stef, Theresa, and others, I begin to see it as a medium that can be used more freely. Theresa had brought some old typeface, carved from wood, for us to use. The prints I produced were printed by hand. The darker one has the word Nettles printed over textured areas of blue and green, printed from scraps of textured wallpaper. The prints ended up with more texture than I had intended because after interleaving them with newspaper so I didn’t get wet ink all over myself or the car, I forgot to take them indoors. By the next morning, some of the newspaper had stuck to bits of them. I may add some other things to the other Nettles prints next week.
I need to learn again for this project to research and draw out my ideas. I have been jotting down notes already of some of the specific things that I might include in images on the picture bricks that we will eventually make. I found myself wondering if I could start with printing the names of the birds I see Ouseburn. There are, of course, the plants and trees. I have already made a start on the animals and birds at the farm but there are plenty more to do. Then I thought about vehicles and equipment…
I’m looking forward to the next session.