Meet the Designer #2
It has been a little while since out first Meet the Designer post but we're back with the second in the series. This time meet artist Chrissie Heughan. Here Chrissie answers our questions and gives us a wonderful insight in to her work and fascinating career.
Hi! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your business please?
Hello, I am Chrissie Heughan an artist working predominately with hand cast paper but I also work across other art forms such as collage and mixed media, printmaking and sculpture. I have been working with paper for over 24 years, creating works with a variety of paper pulps. I merge traditional with contemporary techniques. I sell my paper works online through my website, www.chrissieheughan.com, where there is also a gallery showing my small sculptures, prints, artists cards and collaborations with other artists. I also run workshops at my studio and exhibit nationally and internationally. The cards produced for Allium are part of collaboration with a Fife based artist/printmaker who I met at Art School.
How did you get started?
I was studying Drawing and Printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art where I started to experiment with paper pulps as I was looking for a different kind of surface to print upon. This lead to a more focused approach to using and casting my own papers. When I graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1995, I set up with the help of a Government aid called ‘Leelstart’, my business and career as a professional artist and freelance tutor. My first workshop was with Waverly Care Trust in 1996 where I taught folks affected by the HIV virus. We constructed a huge hand made paper book, which is now held by The City of Edinburgh Council. I also worked for communities and organisations such as Artlink Central, Edinvar Housing and Leith School of Art. I had various teaching posts at Edinburgh College of Art until 2012, lecturing in papermaking, printmaking, mixed media and sketchbook work.
What inspires you?
The work I am currently making called ‘series blue’, is inspired by looking out up at the skies through my large velux window in my studio. It is like a frame around a continuous and changing picture. I think especially now people are looking down instead of up. Looking down at their phones mostly. … Landscape and plants are my loves and inspirations …… with most forms of music.
Can you tell us a bit about the processes involved in creating your work?
My working practice with paper is made from cellulose found in organic matter. Raw materials I use can be abaca, cotton linters, indigenous plant fibres such as thistle, and kozo (a Japanese fibre with silk like properties), all are pounded in my Hollander Beater for a length of time. The fibres, now pulp, are then mixed with water into a vat. The paper mould and deckle that I use are normally wire mesh and of varying sizes, and I work western style. I dip the mould and deckle into the vat and lift a thin stratum of diluted pulp. This I do at my studio. However, the ‘unabridged’ cards are reproduced from the “unabridged’ series of unique variable silkscreen prints that were hand pulled at Dunfermline Print Workshop. This was part of an ongoing collaboration between Fife artist Sheila Carnduff and myself. We used water based silkscreen inks and printed upon Somerset Satin paper during Autumn 2015 - Spring 2016.
What’s your favourite part of creating your work? Do you have any favourite tools?
My favourite part is in the paper making process itself, the actual act of fusing and mixing the various colours onto the paper moulds by dipping the mould and deckle into the pulp/water mix. This is a repetition that is centuries old. It is a very hand on technique.
I also greatly enjoy working in collaboration with other artists and again with the silkscreen print method, it is the actual physical act of pulling the squeegee down the silkscreen pushing the flowing inks along.
What is your workspace like?
I am very fortunate to be now in a based in a studio in the purpose built Bill Scott Sculpture Centre, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. This award winning building opened 2012. I have been a member and studio holder since 1997. Back then the studios were without windows and quite chilly. It was generally a basic workshop setting but all the studio holders and members made it a great community feel. It went from the ridiculous to the sublime! Visitors are welcome but by prior appointment only.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
When I am not working, but one is always thinking on ideas, I like to go to the cinema, theatre, long walks in the countryside and visit gardens. Oh and music too! I have now a pair of Birman cats that are quite active and keep me busy.
Thank you for the fantastic insight into your work Chrissie.