Sarah Gillespie RWA is one of the wonderful printmakers joining our Print in Action line up. Part of Dog and Wold Press, with her husband Paul Kirkup, and also as an individual artist, Sarah works mostly with mezzotint, carefully choosing “Intaglio etching inks because they are the right density for mezzotint” Planet-conscious Sarah says they “are as good as Charbonel, I think, but come in a much more economical cartridge.”

Sarah studied 15 & 16C methods and materials at the Atelier Neo-Medici in Paris for one year before going on to Oxford University to read Fine Art at the Ruskin. She now live in Devon, working on various projects in the South West.

Gillespie’s drawings and mezzotints have been exhibited and collected internationally. In 2021 the entire suite of moth mezzotints were acquired by the V&A in London for their permanent collection. Her primary interest is in “making an art that is devoted not to self-expression but to the fragile lives of our fellow sentient beings – moths, trees, and birds.”

“My recent work has been on moths – the gradual drawing forth of the image from the darkness seeming a perfect matching of method to subject. The method itself holds meaning for me somewhere around its ability to speak both literally and poetically of the moths being neither present, nor absent but always both. Here and not here. Also, because one is working in mirror and from dark to light and without line, there are, in the long hours of making, many when it is not at all clear whether one – the artist – is indeed ‘drawing forth’ or whether the moth – subject – is revealing herself. There is much more of a play, a conversation between these two possibilities than in some other mediums and I value that exchange more than I can say. We are not separate from our fellow beings in fact, we are all quite literally made of the same stuff and share each other’s fate.”

In tune with her practice, Sarah chooses Arches Moulin du Gué paper “because it is very lean and quite difficult and characterful. you have to respect it and treat it carefully.” “I am attracted to Mezzotint as a method because of its difficulty. I relish what Tacita Dean calls the resistance of the materials and the method. It’s slow, and gradual and it is those very qualities that are so necessary and important. As a method it presents very few opportunities to impose oneself, to splash gesture and ego.”

Gillespie believes the practice of paying attention to the more-than-human world to be a radical form of art in and of itself. “We are asked not to notice so much of what goes on around us.” She believes that to refuse not to notice, to heed, to attend, to be ‘in conversation’ with our fellow beings, to love and to allow ourselves to grieve for what is lost, is a practice that is at once devotional and subversive.

During Print in Action Festival, Sarah Gillespie will be in the print room at Plymouth College of Art, printing mezzotints and answering your questions about the preparation of plates, engraving, papers, inks, timings, pressure, tool care and more.

Join us for Print in Action, Plymouth’s first ever print festival, 22nd-23rd October, to see Sarah Gillespie and many more! Combining creative expertise and collaboration with printmakers across the South West, the festival will take over Ocean Studios, Royal William Yard and offers a range of masterclasses, tasters, workshops, talks and stalls for you to explore and take part. There will be something for everyone, along with good food and live music. A rare opportunity for you to immerse yourself in creative contemplation, collaborate in making prints big and small and print your action on the collective Truth Wall!

Would you like to find out more about mezzoprint and Sarah’s practice? Visit Sarah’s website here and buy your Print in Action Festival tickets here.