In the third interview with our Artists who were due to be exhibiting at the Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead - gallery director Gina Cross asks British printmaker Anna Marrow a few questions about her work and her response to the recent unexpected events and its impact on her practice
Gina Cross: Hi Anna, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us. As a screen print artist who relies on a print room to create your work how has COVID affected your practice?
Anna Marrow: Spike print studio in Bristol where I print and teach closed quite suddenly at the beginning of March. My initial reaction was blind panic as I have no room for screen printing equipment at home. However, as it turns out, I’ve really enjoyed working with my new limitations. Now everything has to be painted and I’m sharing the dining room table with two home schoolers. I’ve taken over a small corner of the room and am sharing the schooling duties with my husband so on some days I move into the living room and get it all to myself.
GC: Have you enjoyed working with these limitations and what’s been the most surprising outcome ?
AM: Because of the space limitations I’ve made some smaller work but I’ve really enjoyed working with paint, pencil crayon , biro and ink again. I miss the crisp, flat, sharp colours of screen printing and I’m having to embrace softer shapes and marks but I’m loving the imediacy of paint and the ability to make mistakes disappear.
GC: How have you found the balance of working from home alongside having to school your two daughters - have you had to timetable your life and when do you make your work ?
AM: My husband and I are both lucky enough to be self employed so we are sharing the home schooling. On the days when I’m in charge I start my own work at about 2.30 and continue after they have gone to bed.
GC: Tell us a bit about how the Artist Pledge has helped you - has it focused your practice in any way ?
AM: The artist’s support pledge has been a really uplifting experience during lockdown. Not only has it been beneficial financially, it has also given me the impetus to sort through my work, organising my thoughts and ideas and recognise the threads running through different pieces. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to buy a few beautiful pieces of work, which has reminded me of the joy you get from purchasing artwork. It’s been great for me to experience this as I’m normally the seller not the buyer, I’d forgotten about the buzz you get .
GC: Do you think that when you return to the print room you may approach your work slightly differently now you’ve had the time away - or will you be going hell for leather back to print !?
AM: I do miss screen print. I love the satisfaction you get from the repetitive physical labour of printing a big edition, those big flat colours, the ability to combine photographic imagery with hand drawn. I also miss the wonderful, supportive,social atmosphere of the communal print room. But, I think I may use the print room a bit less after lockdown as I’m also enjoying the intimacy of making one off art works and the imediacy and control of painting.
GC: Although you have missed out on the Other Art Fair and The Affordable Art Fair - are you optimistic about how art is now being sold more online ?
AM: I was very concerned about the closure of the art fairs as they are a big focus of my year but I optimistic about how art work is selling on line, maybe we need art more than I thought.
GC: What is the thing you have missed most about ‘normal’ life during lockdown - and have there been surprising benefits to it do you think ?
AM: I think, like a lot of people I have mixed feelings about lockdown. The hardest thing I’ve found is not being able to see family and friends but I have enjoyed spending all this time with my immediate family. One of the biggest surprises for me is that , through home schooling, I’ve discovered I actually quite like maths. Admittedly it’s 12 year old and 8 year old maths , but I’d forgotten how satisfying it is to crack a problem and get the answer right!
Thanks Anna - we're really loving the new work you've produced for the show.
To view the full show it will be live on the website from 14 May 2020.