It's time for another welcomed wandering into the mind of a lovely Art Wall artist. Today, Bridget Farmer and her aviary of bird etchings and kitchen prints offer insights into the world of BridBird.
(AW) After having lived in Australia for a bit, you're back in Ireland--how do the people and places around you influence what you make?
(BF) I find I am influenced a lot by my surroundings. In Australia I was mesmerized by all the bird life and they became a huge theme in my work. Since moving back home to Northern Ireland I've started looking again to British and Irish birds, but I've also found I'm interested in capturing the landscapes. Images of the countryside are so familiar to me, I want to capture and hold on to them for when I eventually move back to Australia in 2011. At the moment these things are mainly in my mind inspiring me rather than on paper, but they are all ideas that I think will form into work over the next few years. These ideas are mainly influencing my printmaking work. In another thread of my practice, my utensil drawings, I have definitely been inspired by moving back home, near my family. My family is pretty much all in the restaurant business. My mum and brother have a wonderful restaurant called The Bay Tree. My mum has been the chef for over 20 years! She has written two Bay Tree cook books and I have illustrated them both. The illustrations from the book were the starting point for my utensil range.
(AW) Where do you like to create your work?
(BF) To be honest, while I'm back home in Belfast, I've moved back in with my mum. My studio is my old bedroom where I grew up. It's great! I even have an open fire in the corner which makes it very cosy. I try and contain myself in there but I always spill out and take over the kitchen and the living room and probably the hallway too. Somehow my partner and my mum put up with it. I also use the Belfast Print Workshop. It is a great facility for printmakers and a good way to meet other printmakers in the area.
(AW) I love your bird etchings. Are you still making them, or etchings of any kind, even though you've relocated?
(BF) I do! I'm a bit slow at the moment though. I find I love making etching plates, but then I am not so quick at printing them, but I'm getting there! I've even bought a mini printing press for my bedroom studio. I brought a pile of torn-down paper home with me last week and I've promised myself I'll print tomorrow. Keep an eye out!
(AW) Could you talk about your process--where your ideas come from and how they end up on the page...
(BF) I always draw from life rather than from photos or other images. I feel it gives the drawing more movement, more energy. You draw what YOU see, rather than what a camera picks up. You capture the essence of the object, be it a spatula, a duck or a nude model. I have lots of sketchbooks and often refer to them. Lately I've carried my sketchbook everywhere; I don't always draw in it, but it's better to have it just in case! I'd say all my etchings started as sketches.
The utensil pieces are drawn straight from life onto the page in pen and ink, and then I use ink washes. I'm a bit scared of painting, I'm more confident with drawing, so I still call them "drawings."
(AW) What's something that makes you happy? What inspires you?
(BF) Birds make me happy. We have lots of bird feeders in our garden and I love seeing all the different tits and finches, starlings, fat wood pigeons, comical crows and evil magpies visiting. I get quite excited when a new bird is seen. I'm glad such simple things make me so happy!
(AW) Lately I've been feeling similarly--the spring birds are finally out and about. It brings a bit of lightheartedness to a chaotic moment, I'd say. Thanks, Bridget.