Silke Heuer’s beautiful, layered etchings are inspired by Modernism, interior spaces, abstraction and still life. She combines different techniques, plates and a subtle use of colour to create both a sense of motion and stillness in her work.
Tell me about how you make your etchings. Do you tend to do a lot of sketches before? Or do you work straight on the plate, quite instinctively?
I usually start by playing with paper and different pens, inks and paints, just making marks. I often experiment using collage, or I play with scale by photocopying a sketch larger or smaller than the original drawing. Often, I go straight onto the plate, working intuitively and expressively, and my favourite prints are those that were done in a quick and immediate way, without too much thinking or planning.
What techniques do you use to make your prints? You often use multiple plates to build up an image, don’t you?
My prints are done from several plates printed on top of each other. I use steel as it is cheap and I like to work on a larger scale. It’s got a darker plate tone than copper or zinc, but I don’t mind that, it suits my work. I always use a variety of etching techniques: hard and soft ground, oil-lift, aquatint and occasionally spit bite. I’m interested in the tension between different types and qualities of marks gained in that way. There’s movement and energy, but there are quiet moments too.
Which artists do you feel have influenced you?
My inspiration is wide and varied. Artists like Frank Walter, Elizabeth Blackadder, Cy Twombly, Barbara Hepworth, modern art and architecture in general, landscape – especially the mythical landscape – interiors, ancient and ethnic artefacts, etc. But the subject matter is just a carrier, really. What matters more to me is to convey a particular feeling or atmosphere.
You’re a jeweller as well as a printmaker. Do you think this influences your etchings, or vice versa? Have you etched your jewellery before?
Other people see more of a connection between my work in either discipline than I do myself, but I guess some of the surface texture in my jewellery is not unlike the shapes and marks in some of my abstract prints. I don’t use etching as a jewellery technique, but achieve these textures in different ways, through fusing or forging, for example. The physical aspect of getting involved with the process and materials I’m using is what I love in both jewellery and printmaking.
Silke’s featured artist show runs at Greenwich Printmakers until October 9, and her atmospheric prints are available at the gallery all year round. For more information, visit her artist’s page and her website.