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Artistic License: Stephanie Sloan

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Screen prints celebrating the Dublin coastline inform Sloan’s new exhibition at Wilton Gallery …

Tell us about your new exhibition “Coastal”…

“Coastal” is a showcase of my screen-print work; my favourite print medium. It is labour and time intensive compared to printing digitally but I love the hand craft process of pressing ink through a screen, the intensity of colour and how it forces me to be selective about my final composition. I enforce rules of minimal colour and form in my screenprints which has, I feel, made my work stronger and makes me work harder to get something right.

How and where do you work?

I start each new work by walking through an area and sketching en plein air, usually with pencil or fine black pen. I find that photographs don’t work for me as research, I need to find my own viewpoint and feel for a space and only get this by spending some time there sketching.

Generally I go back to the area a few times as the light is different and the tide is different – low tides uncovering beautiful textures and patterns. From there, I bring the sketchbook back to the studio and begin a process of editing the composition, initially by hand, and then in Photoshop in preparation for printing film to expose onto the screens. The screens are then exposed in the studio and the final image is hand printed in layers on a cotton paper.

Have you got any favourite images from the exhibition?

I love the balance in the print “Sandycove II”. I wanted to include the James Joyce tower and beautiful Michael Scott building in a print, so this one includes these but not as the main focus. “Sandycove II” was really about catching the light sitting on the water and the feeling of a quiet evening after what was a bustling day on this little beach and harbour. The stillness of these prints, I hope, allows the viewer to access their own memories and experiences of these places.

What part of the Irish coastline do you enjoy most?

I grew up close to Brittas Bay in Wicklow and have now returned to live there with my family, so I am a loyal supporter of the east coast. My husband is from Kerry and we have spent many years holidaying on the opposite side of Ireland in Dingle where I have to admit, the landscape is truly awe-inspiring. Colder and wetter, but so beautiful. We used to have heated discussions over our preference for one or the other but now I realise they are just not comparable.

What I have really loved about the coast this year, and I think this has happened all over Ireland, is the amazing community spirit I witnessed, particularly as I sketched around the Forty Foot this summer. So many flasks of tea and biscuits were enjoyed after a bracing swim with all ages mixing together. I’m sure those chats, as much as the cold water, have helped to keep people sane over the last few months.

How has your work evolved – have you had any artistic muses?

My background is in design and many years working in graphics and illustration has influenced my leaning towards minimal form and purity of elements in my work.

I have vivid memories of visiting a Matisse exhibition in London with my Mum when I was really young and standing in front of the giant papercut “The Snail”. It left a big impression on me and I have adored his papercut work ever since. I also draw a huge amount of inspiration from Hockney and the attention he gives to textures and surface in his paintings. I particularly love his pool series and I got to see his retrospective at the Tate Britain a few years ago, where I could really study and appreciate how he captured light on water. His use of colour in this series has particularly influenced the colours in this new series of prints.

Need to Know: Stephanie Sloan’s “Coastal” exhibition is at Wilton Gallery, (55 Glasthule Road, Sandycove, Dublin) until October 17; www.wiltongallery.ie.

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