Time for a Change

. Its been a long time since I updated my website and its definitly time for a change. Its going to take me a little bit of time, for the time being at least, as I am doing it myself. … Continue reading

Found In Blackburn

On the 25th March Found in Blackburn took place. I had the pleasure of running workshop for the event at Blackburn Museum. Linocuts were created which represented buildings highlighted in the Found in Blackburn Art Trail. Using the museums rather fabulous Columbian Press visitors were able to create their own prints and posters using the lovely lino blocks which I created with the help of The Making Rooms. Please note the picture of me at the press was taken on the day by Derren Lee Poole. Thanks Derren

Ant and Grasshopper Book Design

I have been experimenting with how to combine my printmaking with artist books. Here I combine my own illustrations with images from early books. I like the idea of the illustrations working their way beyond the confines of the book so I am playing with cutouts and popups. The story of the Ant and Grasshopper is close to my heart but I will save the detail for another post.

Contemplating a Legacy


This temporary exhibition by artist Julia M. Swarbrick showcases work produced during her seven month residency at Blackburn Museum funded by Art Council England.
Julia used the museum’s Columbian Press to create hand pulled prints in response to the Hart Collection.

In 1946 Robert Edward Hart, left his large collection of manuscripts, books and coins to the people of Blackburn. Known as the Hart Collection, it includes Psalters and Books of Hours and also some of the earliest printed books by William Caxton. Julia has responded with to the collections various graphic elements with her own collection of relief prints which re-position the imagery of the past into a more Contemporary setting, including Blackburn and the local environment. It is an eclectic response to an eclectic collection populated by fabled characters and beasts both real and mythical. The work touches on a variety of elements in the collection including the Shakesphere Folios, Chaucers Cantabury Tales, travel writings, fables and books of hours.
The exhibition also explores the use of old and new technologies, while making the most of what the Columbian Press has to offer. A handmade book is created using traditional printmaking methods such as hand cut woodblock and lino. Working with the Making Rooms provides an opportunity to use new technology to re-create old woodcuts like those used in some of the earliest printed works of Chaucer. These blocks are then printed on the Columbian Press. The 15th Century meets the 19th meets the 21st.

Downstairs – Skill and Labour Gallery

Working with the Columbian Press – Public Engagement

Here you can see some examples of just some of the work produced during the workshops ran as part of Julia’s printmaking residency at the Museum. This includes prints by members of the Friends of the Museum,  Blackburn Youth Zone, the Community Living Room Project, local artists and a wide range of visitors to the museum.  The various groups have had the opportunity to learn relief printmaking techniques, producing prints both by hand and on the Columbian Press. This gives a flavour of how printing was done historically and how it can be used creatively in the present.


These prints were produced in a workshop with a number of Lancashire based artist including: Ceris Jones , Julia Entwistle, Katherine Hargreaves, Boz Phillips, MisterD ToYou and Kate Eggleston-Wirtz

Celebrating Chaucer – Early Printed Works

With early printed versions of the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer on display at Blackburn Museum here was an opportunity to try something new and yet rather old with the Columbian Press. Using wooden blocks and digital laser cutting I recreated the wooden blocks used in the very first printed editions of Canterbury Tales. Images include the wife of Bath, the Nun and the Knight from their repespective tales. I also created an extra character for the story who was very much heading his way to Canterbury from Blackburn.

When I have completed my project with these blocks i will be donating them to the Museum to use with their education boxes. In future young people visiting the museum will get some insight into how those early books were printed.

Summer 2016 – Workshops with the Friends of Blackburn Museum

olivias-print-2olivias-print-1Work by Members of Blackburn Friends of the Museum created in my printmaking workshops this summer. Here are some beautiful prints by Olivia Keith. All work is inspired by the Museums wonderful Hart Collection an amazing collection of books that span the history of the printed word and beyond.


The Trials of the Worker Bee

These bee themed Lino block were created from my drawing using a laser cutter at the Making Rooms in Blackburn. The blocks were finished by hand and then printed on Blackburn Museums 150 year old Columbian Press. The Bee pictures will form part of a series of images that will be turned into a contemporary Book of Hours. Books of Hours were designed for meditative contemplation. I associated them with seasonal pictures of labourers working in the fields. The wealthy owner of a Book of Hours might contemplate such things. I sit and look out my window contemplating the bees working hard at the Lavender. The image and the scent of the lavender is calming to me while the bees labour on.

400 years of William Shakespeare

To celebrate 400 Years of since the birth of William Shakesphere, Blackburn Museum was able to come up with something rather special.

The Museum were able to display an extremely rare and important first edition of Shakespeare’s plays, known as the First Folio, on loan from Stonyhurst College in Clitheroe.

Blackburn’s own Edward Hart collected fine examples of the Second, Third and Fourth Folio, which he gifted to the people of Blackburn for display in the museum. Together with the Stonyhurst First Folio the display they make a unique collection.

I wanted to celebrate 400 years of Shakesphare and incorporate that trusty Columbian Press. So I created a little Octavo from a handcut lino block. The mini book celebrates Shakespeare with representation of eight of his plays. Its all made out of a single piece of paper which is folded and has one single cut. No glue its a simple idea.

Memories of Moss & Sand – Counterpart Lytham Interventions


As part of art trail within an art trail I created for Lytham festival I decided to offer a mini printmaking workshop for visitors to the event. Here are some of the results.

Memories of Moss and Sand – Lytham Festival 2016

Memories of Moss and Sand is a temporary art trail designed to draw attention to the natural history of Lytham alongside the human story. By draining the moss lands of Lytham and changing the makeup of the sands the Clifton family played an integral role in creating the wealth and prosperity of Lytham. However, today this kind of intervention raises many issues regarding how humanity impacts on spaces for wildlife. We aspire to thrive but we constantly must confront ourselves with the question of how continue to create room for the precious wildlife that sometimes still thrives in these locations.

Handprinted  artists interpertations of the wildlife that would have once thrived this area will be found at key locations around Lytham town centre.  The artworks  are hand printed lino or wood cuts printed on cotton based paper of calico. Cotton is selected as it has been an significant creater of wealth and town development across Lancashire. This includes the popularity of Lytham as a retreat from more industrial spaces.

Images include

The Cockle – Lanigans, Booths

The Cockles is still common to the Lytham area today. It is a small, edible, saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusc. True cockles live in sandy, sheltered beaches throughout the world. They are an important food source for wading birds and other wildlife. They are also a popular seaside snack and generally considered a sustainable source of protein. In England and Wales, people are permitted to collect 5 kg of cockles for personal use. However, pickers wishing to collect more than this are deemed to be engaging in commercial fishing and are required to obtain a permit from the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. Environmental changes can impact on the lives of the humble cockle and other creatures that depend on it.

Migrating Birds e.g. Black backed Gull – Lytham Station, Booths

The former Mosslands of Lytham would have been important for a diversity of birdlife.  Lytham estuary remains an internationally important area for migrating birds. The gulls at the station represent the migrating birds while reflecting on the current and historical movement of people in and out of the town.


The Shrimp – Booths

Lytham is famous for its Shrimp.  This tiny crustacean has been landed in the town for hundreds of years. The shrimp has the potential thrive here because the fresh waters of the River Ribble flood the estuary with fresh water rich in nutrients. Shrimp are important to the eco system and provide food for a range of animals.



The Redshank/ Other Wading bird – Park View, Booths

The former mosslands of Lytham would have been a haven for a diversity of the waterfowl. My representation of a wading bird is based on the redshank. The redshanks can  commonly be found nesting on the local estuary.  The RSPCB have place the red shank on the Amber list, placing it under a moderate threat

Grayling  Butterfly – Sparrow Park, Lowther Gardens , Lytham Library, Booth

The grayling butterfly linocut can still be spotted at Lytham St Annes and with close attention a wide range of other b

utterflies still find safe habitat in and around the area. Populations of butterflies continue to drop significantly due to increasing loss of habitat.

Linnet –  Lowther Library, Booths

Once common across the UK. According to the RSPCA  A small, slim finch, widely distributed, and once very popular as a cage bird because of its melodious song.
Linnet numbers have dropped substantially over the past few decades, with the UK population estimated to have declined by 57 per cent between 1970 and 2008. Populations in England and Wales continue to decline. The Linnet is on the red list for conservation

The Skylark – Lowther Gardens, Booths

The skylark would once have thrived in Lythams wild open habitat.  According the the RSPB It  is a small brown bird, somewhat larger than a sparrow but smaller than a starling. It is streaky brown with a small crest, which can be raised when the bird is excited or alarmed, and a white-sided tail. The wings also have a white rear edge, visible in flight. It is renowned for its display flight, vertically up in the air. Its recent and dramatic population declines make it a Red List species.

Lizard – Sand Lizard – Assembly Rooms, Booths

According to Lancashire Wildlife trust Sand Lizards are one of the UK’s rarest reptiles. They favour sandy heathland habitats and sand dunes and can be spotted basking on bare patches of sand. They also lay their eggs in the sand. Sand Lizards are confined to a few sites as destruction of their habitat has reduced their range.

Artist in Residence – Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery 2016

I am pleased to announce that this year I will be working as Artist in Residence at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery. A feature of this residency is that I will be working with this rather fabulous Columbian Press. The press was recently re-installed in the Musuems Community and Labour Gallery after many years languishing in the basement. I hope to bring it back to a working life not only creating my own artwork but helping others discover the wonders of this old but still highly effective technology.



Adventures in a Northern Landscape


Artists Simon Plum, Lisa Wigham and myself are photographed by photographer Michael Swarbrick as we prepare ourselves for Adventures in a Nothern Landscape.


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