Printing at home for your own pleasure is fine, perfection even, and going out into a studio or even selling your work is admirable too. But some printers take it even further, producing works to benefit others, for charity or similar. And Carolyn Murphy is one of those legends.
Based in Manchester and usually working in her attic, but sometimes visiting Hot Bed Press in Salford and Prospect Studios in Rossendale, she has recently undertaken a massive linocut commission for Macmillan. Prints of the artwork will be sold for the charity, which she confesses has been “very helpful to her”.
“It’s the largest I’ve ever printed and it’s my first commission – an A1 reduction linocut for Macmillan’s Cancer Support Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital in South Manchester,” Carolyn explains.
Initially a school printer, she returned to the printing fold in 2008. “I didn’t return to printmaking until about 2008 when I did a weekend woodcut printing course at Llanthony Art in Wales with artist Veronica Gibson. I knew I was hooked again at once. Linocut is still my favourite medium and I enjoy working both with multi-plate and reduction.”
Carolyn says her love of print has been maintained by the courses she’s attended. “I’ve been a member at Hot Bed Press since 2011 and was on their first Complete Printmaker evening course, which ran for a year on Monday evenings. I love to learn from other printmakers. I print regularly with Alan Birch’s Prospect Printmakers and have attended workshops with printmakers I admire, including Hester Cox and Ian Phillips,” she explains.
Carolyn says she’s inspired by wild industrial landscapes, hidden places and Manchester itself. And, just like with many who create art, finds there’s a therapeutic aspect to her printing. “I had a tough few years where recovering from cancer surgery and felt lost. Printmaking has been a great help in finding calm and getting back my energy and oomph. It’s a joy to regain that passion and focus. I feel lucky to have met some great people through printmaking. There’s a lively community of printmakers here in the North West and it really adds to the fun and inspiration.”
Which brings us neatly to the stunning print she is, as we speak, working on for the charity. “I started by working up a quarter-sized prototype to try to reduce some of the risks. I’m printing it on the largest etching press at Hot Bed Press. I’m nearly there! I have one more colour to print now. I’m happy with the way it’s going,” Carolyn says.
“It’s taken me over 60 hours of cutting and printing already and it’s definitely testing my stamina. It will be part of the opening of the new extension to the Macmillan Centre in a few months. I’m really proud to be able to create something positive and uplifting to go on the wall in the new Centre. It will also help raise funds for Macmillan. They provide an amazing service and have helped me enormously,” she adds.
Carolyn also exhibits, she says, and is looking forward to more across 2018. “I’ve had an exhibition in Chorlton since December, with a fellow printmaker. It’s just coming to an end and I’ve been really pleased with the response. Sales of my linocuts and new cards (produced by the not-for-profit organisation Love From The Artist) have been really promising. I have three more group exhibitions planned so far for this year. I’d like to build up some more sales opportunities and see how things can develop. I’ve recently added a shop function to my website, which is a start!”
But there’s more. “I have a few pieces of work in the Longitude Gallery in Clitheroe at the moment. In October my work will be in exhibitions at the Old Parsonage in Didsbury and the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. I always post latest news on exhibitions and fairs, and my finished work on my website and I post work in progress and behind the scenes stuff on my blog as well as on twitter.