Elaine Brett-Rowlands

Having owned two successful galleries for 25 years and selling work by British Contemporary Artists and Makers the tables have been turned as last year I become a maker. I create landscapes using clay and plaster, inspired by my love of the countryside, gardens and plants.

My experiments with clay and plaster began in my early 20’s living in the beautiful Ribble Valley in Lancashire where I did a night class in ceramics for over 12 years. Following that I moved to York to take over Pyramid Gallery where I quickly became immersed in collagraphy printmaking and etching under the guidance of Peter Wray. I loved how an image could be reproduced but also altered by the way in which paint was applied. This has informed the way I work.

To make the pictures flowers, leaves and seed heads are pressed into clay. Other marks are made with dried clay, twigs, seed heads and anything sharp such as a knife or needle.  This is then cast in plaster and moulded in silicone enabling me to reproduce the image. I make limited editions of 150, as is often done in printmaking, to ensure that the quality of the casts is not compromised by the deterioration of the mould. The casts are then finished using acrylic paint rolled onto the plaster thereby ensuring each piece is unique.

In 2009 I fulfilled a lifelong dream to live in the Lake District and took over Northern Lights Gallery in Keswick. Surrounded by amazing countryside and incredible artists I dabbled with creative ideas but never had enough time to fulfil them! The opportunity came when I retired, moved to live in an old cottage surrounded by meadows and country lanes and create a cottage garden. It gave me everything I needed to create my pictures at that time.

In April this year we moved from the cottage into a new house on an estate on the very edge of the Lake District National Park. With only a bare lawn, my priority was to fill the garden with plants and make a new cottage garden with a small pond for wildlife.  Many of the pictures for this exhibition have been created using the lovely plants in my new garden. Other pictures have been inspired by the plants on the fells and in the hedgerows close to our new home.

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