Alison chose printmaking as her medium as soon as she was allowed in the print room during her time at Newcastle University where she studied for her first degree in Fine Art. Although Alison chose printmaking as her medium when studying her final show was sculpture and photography. And when she was subsequently chosen to exhibit in the RCA and was commissioned by Lord Rothschild to make a life-size bronze sculpture of five gnashing, running dogs, it looked like her career might have gone down different route.
But despite this success she abandoned sculpture and returned to printmaking, running the Printmaking Workshop at Lincoln University for the next 9 years. At Lincoln, Alison completed her MA degree, learnt a lot about practical printmaking and began exhibiting her own work. This led to her going it alone as a commercial artist printmaker three years ago and this is how she now makes her living.
Alison Read is from Lincolnshire and specialises in hand made original prints in a variety of methods including screenprints, etchings, woodcuts, linocuts and aquatinting. The subject matter is quirky, fun and mainly animal humour, but always different. Although Alison loves all forms of printmaking, her current favourite is the woodcut, and she attacks her plates quite brutally at times. She is always surprised at how simple they are; just a few lines to denote the essentials. Alison likes the hands-on nature of producing a plate and its immediacy, she doesn’t keep highly detailed sketchbooks etc as she uses the plate rather than paper to work out ideas.
Alison’s upbringing on a farm explains her preoccupation with animals in her work as she had literally spent most of her waking hours outside surrounded by them – cows, cats, dogs and chickens were her constant companions. Alison was the youngest in the family, with an older brother and sister, so the animals were her substitute friends of sorts. It was the best life she could have wished for, but a little unusual, and of course, having this experience led her to know their characters rather well and she has hundreds of stories in her head about them as individuals. For this reason Alison has obviously ‘humanised’ the animal.
Alison always regarded animals as having our traits and she is just taking it one step further. She likes the idea that they are free to think and do as we do, and she likes to make up some sort of visual story.
Alison loves nothing better than printing by hand then looking at the results of her labour. For her it is so satisfying to see hundreds of prints drying in her studio; it feels very productive. This suits Alison’s work ethic so I guess that’s why she likes it. When she is not making new plates she is busy editioning the plates already done.
Heart Gallery sells Alison’s limited editions as well as her signed cards …. wide-eyed cats with jagged whiskers; playful hares; startled ostriches; busy little dogs with gnashing teeth; patient collies; a Jack Russell in a tutu holding a flower in its mouth ….. just some of the quirky animals in Alison’s current collection.
Alison is now a full-time printmaker, exhibiting with the local co-operative gallery in Lincoln and in a number of other venues scattered across the country. She feels that she is just at the beginning of a career path that is full of interest and promise. Many of her fans will agree with her and Heart Gallery is looking forward to Alison’s new work later in 2011 as she has plans to introduce papercuts.