I had the pleasure of visiting both of these artists at their studios earlier in the year. What a treat to be able to spend time with two women who live and breathe their art practice. I hope you enjoy the following conversation about their friendship and their seperate practices. I hope you 'see' them as I did.
Q & A with Susanne Khouri & Kate McLean
Q. What was it about printmaking that first appealed to you?
Kate: I grew up with a mother who painted and drew well. So I always knew I would tend towards the visual arts. Drawing has always kept me going, but painting requires a particular brain I did not have. In my first year of a Fine Arts Degree at University I came across screen printing & something went Ahhh. I was hooked. Printmaking uses a set of materials, tools, stages and processes that interest me.
Susanne: Printmaking appeals to me because of the impression which the image makes when it is literally pressed or screen-printed on to the paper and the potential for limitless variations of colour and subject-matter. Now that I know how to do it, I absolutely love the times in my studio. It is my happy place.
Q. You both have different practices - can you explain your process to us?
Kate: I take photos, many, often. I then use photoshop to work them into layers (or a dot screen for tonal values), then transfer to a screen which has been made light sensitive. After developing the image on the screen I print onto fresh clay, which needs at this stage to be flat but can be altered later. Once the piece is made and dried it is fired. The firing produces yet another stage.
Susanne: Kate and I share screen-printing as a technique, I also use zinc plates which are pitted to hold the ink during the printing process with my press. Zinc-plates enable me to create colours ranging from soft and light to deep velvety tones. The work created by these plates become the background for my screen-printed works. I have also lately begun using the gel plate for Monotype work.
Q. Where do you draw inspiration from for your practice?
Kate: I look a lot. I look with an eye to whether or not something makes an image that interests me, that might be the basis for some work. Its often something that says to me, unless you use me, I’m going to niggle until you do. I’m conscious that images from the natural world, or retro references can be beguiling and so I look for something that I feel is unique to me. I would like to use drawings more, photographs do not convey scale well.
Susanne: Inspiration for me begins with a thought or a glimpse of something, either in my imagination or in the real world. It then expands and develops as I work and rework my pieces. My works are impressions of moments of stillness and discoveries, hybrids between the real and imagined.
Q. What have you found to be most challenging about your 'art' journey?
Kate: Supporting oneself and making creativity pay. Does one do a job that pays and keep it separate from one’s creativity or compromise what one makes? Believing in oneself. Finding a thread that leads from one set of work to the next. Sometimes it feels like one starts at the beginning again.
Susanne: I see myself as an artist, a printmaker. I want each of my prints to be unique and to have an elusive “something” which appeals to me even if the work is different every time. My printmaking involves playing to a great extent and always asking “What will happen if I do this?’’ The successes are heavenly and not frequent.
Exhibition Thursday 30th - Saturday 22nd April.