Mary Gillett is a printmaker specialising in traditional etching. During Print in Action Festival she will be hosting a talk called ‘The Dream That Came True’ which will documents the evolution of her printmaking practice and the importance of its integral relationship to the dynamic and ethos of her teaching practice.
The lyricism that is inherent in her landscapes sits firmly within the Romantic tradition. “They convey powerful, often uncompromising landscapes. Largely monochromatic, a stern lyricism pervades her work ultimately speaking beyond place and season to express a universal truth about the persistence and poetry of wild places and our response to them.” (Kari McGowen)
She enjoys the physicality of the process and loves the accidents that happen which give each print its unique character. She believes that it’s often the imperfections in a piece of work that make it more exciting. “I make traditional etchings, sometimes using both the intaglio and the relief levels of the plate during the printing process. I also make collagraph and carborundum prints, sometimes as starting points, sometimes as prints in themselves. These are usually one-offs, i.e. monoprints.”
“The printmakers from the past that have taught me the most are Goya and Rembrandt. I love the prints of Peter Doig and George Shaw. It’s hard to name a single printmaker in either respect. I am inspired by elements from the work of many painters and printmakers but not usually one in particular!”
Mary uses a variety of tools to create her art “The burnisher scraper is a vital item in my tool kit. I think of it like a rubber, or a palette knife, using it as I would on a charcoal drawing or a painting to modify, scrape back and rework my plates. It’s the tool that makes my etchings what they are.” Charbonnel is her favourite ink; “It is the richest and most reliable and, once I’ve got to know each individual plate, it is the most successful in bringing out all their subtleties and complexities.”
Mary graduated with a Fine Art degree from the University of the West of England in 1979, followed by a PGCE and a Postgraduate Diploma in Printmaking at Brighton University in 1984. She founded Tamar Print Workshop on her return to Devon in 1992 where she, and many other printmakers in the region, have been working ever since. She exhibits extensively in the UK and her work is held in public collections and many private collections, both in the UK and abroad.