Roy Willingham

London. UK

Since I was just a lad I have enjoyed both making art and being out in the landscape -whether urban or rural.

This delight has never gone away and the two have stayed entwined from my student days at Central School of Art in London where I first began to make prints. I have remained living, working, drawing, painting and printmaking in London ever since, acquiring a family, an Albion press and a studio along the way.

Landscape themes have dominated my output almost entirely. I have produced images both highly figurative and completely abstract but my fascination is with the borderline area between the two. This interest in ambiguity extends to the formal aspects of my art making: I like the viewer to be as aware of the materials and process as they are of the imagery.

Printmaking has played a major part in my landscape explorations and it has undoubtedly influenced the images I have made. My linocuts will often have many layers and the time spent waiting for inks to dry is used not only in preparing and cutting the blocks for the next layer but is also essential for pondering the ideas of the work and the potential paths I have to get to an end result.

I will usually have a good idea of the image I want to produce when I start a print but I like to remain flexible and allow anomalies of the process to have an influence – even errors of cutting, colour mixing or printing can lead to interesting unplanned results that can be utilised or accommodated in the final image. Having learned the orthodoxies of printmaking I now find myself curious about how I can make good use of what might be considered ‘the wrong way’ to do things. ‘What if... ’ and ‘what else…’ constantly come into my thoughts while I am printing. So I continue to play with things like over- and under-inking, varying printing pressure, using different printing surfaces… Successful repeatable experiments get added to my repertoire of techniques while the uncontrollable ones are reserved for monotypes.

The three pieces in this show all attempt to define aspects of a location. Two are based on places very familiar to me and are intended to convey something of the geography, structure and mood. While the third, ‘Terracotta City’, is a true Italian capriccio utilising a variety of blocks cut for other prints. The accretion of many layers and the amalgamation of places combined in the process of printing to produce a scene of somewhere impossible to visit yet vivid in the imagination.

The conception we have of places unseen is one that I find very intriguing – the way that images we create for ourselves in our minds differ from the actuality. I associate very particular images of place with my prints but I love the inevitable fact that other people will see different places to me when they are viewing them – I see in this a true reflection of how each of us perceives reality in an individual way.

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