Liz Toole

I studied HND ceramics at Cumbria College of Art and Design from 1992-1994 From here I decided the next step was a degree and was accepted into the second year at Cardiff Institute which at the time was one of the best ceramic courses in the country. I immersed myself in the course my drawing work becoming as important as the clay work. Graduating in 1996 my next focus was travel. In 1997 we embarked on a trip of a lifetime to Africa. We spent 17 months working and travelling around Southern Africa, mainly in Zimbabwe and Malawi. We had a fabulous introduction to the diverse craft world in Zimbabwe as the couple we stayed with in Harare sold crafts, we travelled all over Zimbabwe with them buying crafts direct from the makers. With little or no access to clay my sketchbook work became increasingly important to me. I believe Africa re-introduced me to nature, I witnessed the most beautiful and extreme flora and fauna, it was here I found the most amazing tree of all – the baobab ( its nickname the upside down tree )

After returning in 1999 we decided to move to Brighton as we thought this would be a great base to start our creative practises. In 2002 I had my first solo painting on wood exhibition at a local restaurant which was called Early bird …………… and yes you’ve guessed it the topic was birds ! I had a fantastic response and sold 75% of the work. One of my biggest influences for the show was a group of painters I met in Zimbabwe called The Weya Women ( I still have 2 of their paintings in my lounge ) They are a group of untrained women who created artworks of their everyday life, mainly on wood or objects. From here I continued painting and exhibiting, finally discovering printmaking in 2005.

In 2006 I was 1 of 4 artists chosen to take part in a printmaking Residency in the Scottish Highlands at The Highland Print Studio. I lived in Cromarty, North of Inverness ( if you listen to Radio 4 you might have heard it mentioned on their shipping forecast ) It was like living in the middle of a nature reserve. It was a fabulous opportunity in which I immersed myself in printmaking for 3 months ( I did so much work here when I returned to Brighton it felt like I had been away for 1 year )

I have continued printmaking ever since, in 2009 crossing over from being a full time painter to printmaker. With printmaking I am constantly learning new techniques which keeps the whole process very exciting. At first I was mainly concentrating on making Lino-cuts and I taught myself the technique of chine colle whilst making the odd screenprint. Now it is the complete opposite, I have become addicted to the process of screeprinting as each print I make I learn something new, its such an exciting and sometimes very challenging process …. but that is why I love it.

For the first time in awhile, this year (2015) I have started painting again. Its not as easy as you might think crossing over from printmaking to painting, I’ve loved it and the finished pieces, but shall we say its been very challenging, obviously this is a good thing to push yourself out of your comfort zone!


In my recent work, I have been creating imaginary scenes filled with the patterns of nature inspired by both the Sussex countryside and the diversity of life I found whilst travelling in Africa. I am interested in looking at details of trees and plants, Indian textiles and bird encyclopaedias, and merging these sources to create, wall-paper like patterns that celebrate the English decorative tradition.

My latest prints has been hand-made in small editions in Brighton, using the techniques of lino-cutting and screen-printing. I use special printmaking papers from the UK, France, Japan and India.

Within my work as a whole, I use nature as a metaphor for human emotions.

Oh yes, one more thing … I quite like birds.

Liz is based at Phoenix Studios, Brighton.

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