I got to see the 40/40 show, which was held in celebration of the 40 year anniversary of Glasgow Print Studio, just before it ended. For a print geek like myself, it offered the opportunity to be wowed by 40 Scottish artists, and their many styles and techniques. The 40 pieces commissioned by the Glasgow Print Studio for the show were also for sale. I couldn’t afford most of them on my student’s budget, but if I had to pick one to splurge on, it would probably have been a print by Bronwen Sleigh.
Sleigh received her MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art in 2008. Her current work consists mostly of elegant geometrical abstracts that are striking at a distance. Up close is where they truly shine, due to the detail and precision Sleigh’s chosen process of etching allows for. Etching is a complex and labor intensive printing process that involves using chemicals to dissolve the lines forming a desired image into a metal plate. Historically, it has been used for centuries to create some of the most famous works in printmaking. The difficulty of etching is a fair tradeoff for the sharpness and detail the metal plate allows, however, and Sleigh makes full use of this quality.
Sleigh uses architecture as a starting point for her compositions, and titles like Pacific Quay, Westfield Road and Exhibition Way II reveal the inspiration for the prints, but they are still essentially abstract. To me, they feel like exploded blueprints, or a representation of what it is like to move around and through these architectural spaces. Sleigh’s work is already beginning to gain international appreciation, as she is featured in shows from Canada to Japan, and her work is in major collections such as the V&A. If you’d like to see more of her work, check out her website!