Thursday, 18 April 2013

Meet the Maker - Paper Scissors Stone

A lovely little interview by the good people at Paper Scissors Stone [taken from the Made in Bristol blog]

Meet the Maker, Paper Scissors Stone - Ruth Broadway (Ruby and the Paper Parade)
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
I live in Bristol with my husband Stu and my two daughters, Iris and Rosa. I first moved to Bristol in 1995 to study illustration at the UWE. Since graduating I have worked in many creative fields; from architectural glass, to teaching drawing; to creating a hand-made baby clothes business, and floristry. I now concentrate on producing limited edition lino prints and related products.

Apart from creating things what else do you do? 
I have a young family so that obviously is a big part of my life. I love film, reading, making lists, cafés and we try to get to the coast as much as we can. I find it very hard to sit and do nothing, I love making or knitting whilst watching a good tv drama.

When did you know you were an artist/maker? 
I grew up in a house where there was creativity and art all around me, so it is something that I have always done and always knew I wanted to do as a job. The reality of actually making a job from my art has been a long one. I think the moment that I realised that making art is what I should be doing was when I had both my daughters. I was totally and happily absorbed in them, but after 6 months or so I started to feel a bit melancholy and realised it was because I hadn’t been making any work, and so I started working in the evenings, and although I was exhausted from being kept up half the night, almost immediately I could feel my energy returning. In both cases it was perhaps my most productive time.  I realised that being an artist or being creative isn’t ‘a job’, but is a necessity; it is part of me.

What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline? 
Lino printing combines my background in drawing and the making side of my practice – the physicality of carving a new design into a lino block is a huge part of the appeal of this medium. I like the challenge of cutting out a highly patterned design. I love the ‘hands-on’ nature of the printing process too – burnishing by hand with a wooden spoon to carefully bring the image to life! At the end of a good day’s printing I always feel very uplifted - with a satisfying sense of having laboured over something to achieve an end product.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My current body of work shows imagery including decorative animals and birds, often with a strong use of graphic line and pattern. I am influenced by Scandinavian folk art, objects I love around my house, 50s and 60s design, my daughters’ story books and graphic poster art.
Describe your studio or workspace?
I am in the brilliantly fortunate position to have a light, dry, warm studio space to make my work in (this has not always been the case). And not only that, I have it totally rent free - I know I am super lucky. My studio space is, in fact, also my (very generous) parents' basement, which has been designed to be used as space to make art. My parents are both creative and are very involved in the local art trail each year. So not only is this their creative basement space, and my studio, but for one or two weekends a year, it also becomes a gallery space - all the clutter is schlepped upstairs to make way for visiting artists and ourselves to exhibit. We all love doing it, and enjoy having our community look round.

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I am a huge fan of Frida Kahlo. Years ago I was lucky enough to visit her home and studio, in Mexico. It was full of colour and character. That was a proper treat! I think I might also like to sneak a peek inside Angie Lewin’s workspace. I’d love to talk to her about her process. I swoon at the beauty and intricacy of her lino and woodcut prints.
How would you describe your creative process?
When making a new piece of work I often come up with a phrase or story that will form a title, and this, in turn influences the design or characters. Other times it is simply the joy of pattern, colour, and graphic line or iconic items of design that inspire. I always start with drawing – there will be LOADS of them for each design – I use a lay-out pad to trace and retrace the drawings until the right composition is arrived at. I then transfer the design onto a lino block in pencil and carve it out with a lino cutting tool. Using a roller I apply oil-based printing ink onto the printing block. Using a small wooden spoon I hand burnish each print to get an even coverage of ink onto the thin(ish) Japanese simili paper.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I can’t just pick one. I am lucky enough to have lots of creative friends and family, so I think the answer is anything made by someone I know and love. I have got some tiny paper shoes that my daughter made that I adore.

What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut? 
I walk. I stop working, to take time to look around me. Someone once told me that you need to have a life to bring life to your work. I have found this to be true; slogging away on something that isn’t working produces something that is stiff and soulless, but if you allow yourself a gulp of fresh air and some fun, somehow that energy comes through in your work.  It’s easier said than done though, I always feel guilty when I’m not in my studio – I don’t want other people to think I’m lazy. But I know it is part of the creative process. There is also a great artistic network in Bristol and there are plenty of people to talk ideas through with and to be inspired by. 

Which is your favourite local independent shop or eatery in Bristol & why? The Old Bookshop café/bar is about a minute from my studio. I find its décor inspiring and quite energising with a quirky use of typewriters, trombones and taxidermy. Oh and their coffee is rather good too! 

Where would you like to be in ten years? 

Hard question! All I know is that I love what I do and I intend to still be doing it until I can’t do it any more (hopefully that will be longer than 10 years!). 

Wow, thank you Ruth, such a great interview.  We are just a tiny bit envious of your studio space and totally can relate to your inspirations...ours too!  Ruth's stunning lino printed work is now available to buy in our Spring Paper Scissors Stone shop.  Hurry they may sell out!

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