There is never a dull moment at Bristol Temple Meads. A vibrant hub of activity for commuters heading to and from the city to begin their working day, excited adventurers heaving their backpacks on their shoulders and bidding farewell to Bristol, and don’t even get me started on the colourful array of artwork lining the platforms.
Local artist Emily Ketteringham is a screen printing artist and printmaker with a passion for Bristol’s quirks and colourful contours. Having previously pursued a career in teaching, Emily developed a fascination with the orderly craft of screen printing. Emily is constantly inspired by Bristol’s varied and vibrant skylines which never cease to spark a new idea within her and she recently completed her MA in Multidiscplinary Print at UWE. She specialises in screen prints with a geological theme, as well as a strong, local Bristol identity threading throughout her work.
“My favourite view of Bristol is either looking back across the city from Ashton Court, or looking down on it from Cabot Tower.”
Emily moved to Bristol in 1995 and began an evening course in screen printing at the School of Art on Queens Road in 2006. Her inspirations come directly through the life within Bristol’s city walls, as Emily explains:
“I have a very soft spot for the colourful terraces (they remind me of the coloured beach huts that I left behind in Brighton when I moved here) and they were the perfect subject matter for my early prints. Bristolians are very proud of their city and are always suggesting views that they think will make a good print.”
Emily often will be spotted walking or cycling the length and breadth of Bristol, searching out a catalyst for her next screen printing project. Working on larger prints of vistas across Bristol, Emily takes the same approach to her work as with her smaller projects, beginning with detailed hand drawings, which she then builds up digitally and these are giclee printed.
“I love the fact that you can walk or cycle pretty much anywhere in Bristol, and wherever you go there is bound to be a fantastic view, or an interesting building, or something totally new for you to stumble upon.” She says.
“There is nothing about the screenprinting process that doesn’t fill me with joy.”
Talking of her time studying for her MA in Multidisciplinary Print at UWE, Emily sees the experience as wholly beneficial to her professional career change:
“I was so lucky to have access to such an amazing course practically on my doorstep. I wanted to do the MA to develop my technical printing skills, but also to give myself an opportunity to explore new subject matter and to play around with ideas.” Emily says.
What started as a bit of an outside interest, quickly grew into something more cumbersome, with a large proportion of her work now dedicated to her geologically inspired designs:
“I started creating prints inspired by maps and geology in my third year, and have now got a bit obsessed, with a large collection of maps filling up my studio and a whole new body of work to start showing.” Emily says.
Emily now studies on an MA in Design, on a part time basis. Her artwork can be found dotted around Bristol – not least, on the platforms of Temple Meads Station. Emily’s work joins a whole array of other local artists:
“It has been lovely having work up at the station. There are so many images, by a wide range of lovely Bristol artists, on display that they make a real impact when people first see them. I like to think that they cheer people up if they are waiting for a train in the rain!” Emily says.
Emily also opens up her house and studios for the Totterdown Arts Trail, where more often than not, people will recognise her designs from those on display at the railway station. Her designs also featured in Bristol’s ‘Gromit Unleashed’ and ‘Shaun in the City’ projects in recent years, both a challenge to Emily who had not yet attempted to paint her designs onto gigantic sculptures around the city!
“I especially enjoyed painting my ‘Groovy Baby’ Shaun in a rather fabulous 70’s shirt and corduroy flares. I put lots of references to my childhood in the design – he was wearing a snake belt like the one my big brother always wore, and his shirt was inspired by my memory of the wallpaper in the room I shared with my sister. I was very sad to say goodbye to him at the auction!” Emily adds.
Interestingly, geography and geology are both strong points of reference for Emily, who is currently working on a new design project focused entirely on the rivers that flow through and beneath Bristol’s foundations. Emily also works on commissions with a special interest and emotional investment in the unique projects to recreate someone’s home, wedding venue or other sentimental reminder of a person’s personal history.
“No matter what the house looks like, there is something that makes that particular house special to the person who has commissioned the picture, and I feel really privileged to be able to create something that someone will treasure.” Emily explains.
Drawing on her childhood and teenage years (the heyday of Flower Power in the 70’s) Emily has reflected this back into her laser cutting series of work – with some of these flora inspired designs featuring at local markets including the Long Ashton market.
“I’m excited to see how people will respond to them. I have an ambition to make a huge piece of work made up of hundreds of trees or flowers covering a great big wall – I think that would just be fantastic!” Emily enthuses.
Bristol has been a well of influence for Emily who has immersed herself in the local arts scenes, including Bristol Art Trails, numerous pop-up shops and the Southbank Bristol Arts Trail.
“If I hadn’t moved to Bristol, I wouldn’t be making a living as an artist. Taking part in pop-up shops like ‘Paper Scissors Stone’ helped me to get my work seen and known. Bristol is just the best place to be an artist.” Emily says.
For more information on Emily Ketteringham’s work: www.emilyk.co.uk