Unfamiliar Ground artist Bronwen Sleigh talks to curator Martyn Lucas

Unfamiliar Ground artist Bronwen Sleigh talks to curator Martyn Lucas

Baker Street - Bronwen Sleigh

Baker Street

We asked Unfamiliar Ground curator Martyn Lucas to ask Bronwen a few questions about the development and ideas behind her work, and what’s coming up next for her.


Unfamiliar Ground presents artworks by three contemporary printmakers.  Your prints are predominantly etchings- what particularly attracts you to this way of working?

I was first attracted to using etching because of my interest in line. The lines that can be produced by printing from a metal plate are unique, with the etched line creating a slightly embossed surface on the final print. The processes involved in making an etching have become just as important to me as the final result-  they include working with metal, drawing with an etching point, etching the plate with acid as well as experimenting during the printing process. While taking the etching plate through all these processes I allow the work to evolve, hoping that the history of making will be visible in the final print.

You started out as a landscape artist. How did you become interested in urban spaces and industrial landscapes?

I first started looking at architecture within the natural landscape when I moved to Scotland to study at Glasgow School of Art. I was quite surprised by the level of industry in some parts of Scotland and I became interested in the relationship between these industrial structures and the landscape around them. I find industrial architecture interesting  as its utilitarian structures are an insight into the industrial world which is unfamiliar to me. As time has passed I have become increasingly interested in urban space and the architecture of the world that we have built for ourselves.  I have always remained interested in landscape, but I tend to focus on places which have been shaped by human intervention.

Your work displays fine drawing skills combined with observation of architecture from around the world.  How do you generate ideas and where would you like to go that you’ve not been to before?

I am always interested in architecture that is unfamiliar to me in some way and often I find this in a different country where  there is always something which is unusual to me.
I have a research trip planned to Quebec, Canada later in the year where I am planning to travel to some of the most isolated parts of northern Quebec including hydroelectric plants and  extremely remote industrial sites and small towns. I am very much looking forward to immersing myself, recording and making new work from this foreign landscape.

There is a restrained beauty in your work which reminds me of 20th Century artists such as El Lissitzky or Ben Nicholson.  Which artists do you look to for inspiration? Which contemporary artists do you admire?

I have a particular interest in avant-garde artists such as El Lissitzky and his contemporaries in Russia. I find it fascinating to look at other artists who have worked with the manmade and industrial world surrounding them at different times in history. I am also interested in contemporary artists who work with the built environment, such as Carol Rhodes, Toby Scheibitz, Toby Paterson, Julie Mehretu and Sara Morris.

What do you surround yourself with in your studio and how is this space different from the print workshop?

I use these two spaces very differently. In my studio I surround myself with my research material which is mostly photographs of places of study; there are also drawings, sketch books, models and sculptures. I find it really useful to have all these things around me to refer to while I am drawing and making. The print studio is much more practical as it is the space where I prepare, etch and print plates. Although these are practical processes a lot of the creative decisions take place at this point.

Where else can people see your work and what plans do you have for the near future?

My work is shown at Glasgow Print Studio, Edinburgh Printmakers, Print Room, London, Castle Gallery, Inverness, Gallery Heinzel, Aberdeen and  Emma Mason Gallery in East Sussex.

My next show will be at Glasgow Print Studio from 8th – 31st August 2014. I will also be part of a two person show in Engramme, Quebec from 10th October – 9th November 2014. I have a solo show in Cydonia, Dallas, USA from 20th May – 30th June 2015.

Thanks Bronwen