Archives for category: Diana Bloomflield

This month I have been drawing using a mashup of print technique:


screen printed mother and child onto feint proof of Diana Bloomfield’s engravings


continuing the mother and child motif


mother, grandmother, child photopolymer and screenprint


overly complex?


simple but bonkers? lithograph and screenprint

This project has become an exhibition. For real. Opens on 16 October with a private view the night before. Semi-Permanent Collections is the title of the show. In a line down the middle of the small gallery space are three display cabinets, tall and narrow, made of glass. I’m currently working on the contents of the central cabinet – an homage to my grandmother Diana. What do you think? Any thoughts on labeling. Labeling will be the issue of the month for me.

Diana Bloomfield cabinet Diana Bloomfield cabinet also

The woodblocks are hers. There are 143 in total and my wonderful aunt Julia Bloomfield is looking after them at the moment but she has allowed me to print from them. The contents of the cabinet will relate closely to what’s on the walls.

I’ve been trying to finish this piece for well over a year  she knows it.

Often the first ideas I have are pretty bad and I have to know when to put a piece in the drawer to allow for ‘percolation’. (Is that a word? You know when something comes through slowly?)

This piece was born out of a mild irritation that there wasn’t more of a connect between the Heritage and Decorative Art Collections at the VG&M. Physically they are displayed on different floors, stored in different buildings and curated by different women. Because I experience the world so visually I saw visual connections: this plate is round with a frilly edge, that invertebrate is round with a frilly edge. I made a short series of objects as a result of my irritation and to connect the two. The first was a staircase: each rise and tread a microscope slide screen printed with an imagined specimen. The stairs intended to connect the two floors in the gallery and museum floors metaphorically.

Then I screen printed a series of china objects that had been in my grandparents’ house with my Gran’s garden plan – mostly the Latin names in her beautiful and wobbly pencil script. (I used an onglaze.)

sugar bowl

The objects refer to her garden, a collection of plants and herself as a gardener curating the collection. They are also highly decorative reminders of their home and a life lived that I want to reach for still.

Seeing images of two pots ‘back to back’ the (negative) space between struck me as filled with content neither overt or public – how like my grandparents’ marriage I thought.

Having made a photopolymer plate I toyed with speech bubbles, use of letterpress – all too literal – I put the print away for over a year. Then I played with it masking areas off until, looking at the ‘playback’ below, I saw very clearly the idea of a book, so I printed a version through a stencil on the Rochat press at Bath Artist Printmakers.

IMG_2422IMG_2423 teapot marriage

Look and you will see the stencil slipped in the bottom left hand corner to create a flag. Not sure whether to print again or no – the mistake is often the best bit. Anyways, what do you expect to find in a book? A story. So now this is a version of that marriage, other versions are available…

I don’t know why I call it that.  This image has a photopolymer plate as its starting point. (Exposed at Spike Island last year.) I had already made a print from the plate that took off in the direction of things that menace and slither. This one I thought was going to say something about labels and categories. The garden tags are plastic screen printed with my Gran’s garden plan in her writing. I wasn’t sure about how to incorporate them and the yellow really dominated. First I made a flower explosion shape but it was too much so I cut them through which created a pile of tags. flower explosion rejected

The pile made me think of garden bonfires and pyres so I glued them down and screen printed a drawn pile over the top to push the yellow backwards.

possible daisy top rhs

possible daisy top rhs

Drawing directly on it would have been risky because of plastic substrate. The daisy shape might reappear in the top right hand corner, I’m not sure yet.

My Gran and so many others in the family are very big into their gardens and plants. They use the Latin names.

showing the positive laid over the print

showing the positive laid over the print

This week and last I have been printing at Centrespace where Nick Hand has established a letterpress workshop and several projects involving bicycles, print, places, photography and other people. What a good guy.

My maternal grandmother was the wood engraver and textile designer Diana Bloomflield. My aunt Julia is currently the custodian of some 140 boxwood blocks she carved. I was in Centrespace to print from these blocks with help from letterpress printers Pat Randle and Ellen Bills.

Now here’s an interesting thing: Pat’s dad – John Randle of the Whittington Press dynasty – published my grandmother’s work while she was still very much alive (Matrix 19). If that weren’t enough to make one feel at home, I recently visited Whittington Press and pinned to the door was a familiar linocut by Andrew Anderson. This architect is a friend of my wonderful aunt Julia’s and she has the same print in her living room, in the house that used to belong to my grandparents. With this wonderful circularity going on I knew I was in the right place with the right people.

I learned to operate two proofing presses at Nick’s gaff. The larger and more complicated was the Fag 40 which is Swiss I believe. What a very satisfying piece of kit. To print the blocks simultaneously one has to make them all perfectly level – type high. That took a while. Thanking printer Ellen Bills for her patience and tact.

Today I’m back in the studio downstairs making something fresh from them. Something that reflects my relationship with her. I’m thinking about spoons, learning to print blocks at her kitchen table with a spoon, receiving a vintage teaspoon wrapped in an old pillowcase for Christmas and the spoon as a metaphor for being fed in a wider sense.

IMG_2363Attempting to monoprint using stencils on Fag 40