The Joy of Collaborating

Posted by Ivan Grieve on

The joy of collaborating


I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few months of working towards our group presentations on the Saltmarsh project. I personally have been visiting and watching the saltmarshes throughout the seasons for a good number of years.

(This image was drawn with found site specific materials supplemented with pencil, charcoal and soft pastel. The image here shows how the printing source and image quality can change remarkably, see blog post  )


Captivated by something perhaps magical, ethereal or spiritual that lies buried somewhere within these saltmarshes. The bond that is made by the experience of a real sense of place is in the beating heart of my work. To understand that other people working on this very same project seem to have the same values and express their joy and knowledge in their own ways is so uplifting. Each of the individuals and the organisations or collectives with whom they work, bring so much energy and information, knowledge and expertise. Harmoniously brought together as a collaboration with the over arching aim of nurturing our saltmarshes has been a wonderful thing to be a part of. For my part in the evening of presentations, I opted for a “show and tell” approach as my short presentation was immediately before the intermission. I brought along a few pieces to demonstrate my working practice and the direction of travel on the Saltmarsh project.


I work throughout the year in the landscape whatever the weather. I enjoy working with found site specific pigments and materials. Bringing back to the studio “the tools of my trade”, little parcels of joy to relish and study.




(Image of materials and the salt marsh sketch emerging)

I have created a visual documentation of many elements of the river Dart, focusing frequently on the Saltmarshes. The saltmarshes form a visually stimulating and dynamic vessel, a repository for ever changing and adapting forms of life. The view across the reed-beds at Sharpham, the changing light and the sounds of wildlife the reeds and tides ebbing and flowing.


(This view over the reed beds I have drawn many times now and below are the eight Lino blocks.)



The pace of the project and the deadline crept up on me rather, however I did manage to complete all that I set out to achieve, eight different linocuts printed on to Awagami Japanese paper using water based Schmincke inks. The sounds and textures of working with the blocks the inks and rollers and then the fine papers, are like the layers of the marshes in some way. Like the saltmarshes the process and materials are resilient yes, but also fragile and dynamic, rewarding and giving too.


(Image of lots of colours in inks and rollers)


With each of the elements of the project from my particular perspective there was always something to explore and experiment with.

The earth print (1) and detritus at the reed beds, (2)the reeds, (3)the Napoleonic wall that had “contained” the river at the hole in the wall, the fabulous (4) drone footage made during the surveying of the marshes for the Dartmouth Harbour master, was by Jack Handley. (Below are some screen grabs the drone footage which have been digitally manipulated).


The detritus and mud gave way to Agar plate  or Petri dish micro organism style images that seemed to my eye to mimic the elements in the drone footage. To some extent the reflection of substance of the saltmarsh from below to above seemed very fitting. I shall develop this direction some more, it seems to have wonderful cyclical appeal.




(Petri images and drone and drawings)


The reeds gave me some really useful gel prints and I had plenty of fun making my own geli plate for printing with some gelatine and glycerin in a baking tray. The prints provided the outlines for the Lino prints which were more easily inked up with the roller than some of the other linos largely as a result of the simple design.




(Geli mat and reeds prints and lino of reeds being inked)

The Napoleonic wall and the works subsequently created was a result  of a wonderful boat trip to see the Saltmarshes provided by the Dartmouth Harbour Master Paul Britton.I drew from some photos I took from the boat and abstracted the natural and made rhythms into some designs for the Lino blocks.



The images made from the drone footage were also great for colour inspiration. I loved the natural patterns that the elements, the wind, the water, erosion and time have made. I wanted to convey this in the Lino prints and played with changing the cutting direction on the Lino with some very sharp tools.





(Drone image and the making of prints)


The whole process of learning as I go along creating has been supplemented with learning more digitally too, there really does seem to be so many avenues to explore. I had some great fun making vides and shorts on YouTube using an app called Cap Cut that my daughter has been teaching me how to use. I guess this is more of a domestic collaboration?



Having now met with more of the collaborative team, there are now even more wonderful and interesting directions to take, more discussions to have and so much more to learn. I recommend that any artist reading this seeks out some collaborative ideas to work on, share ideas, nurture each other and give to a wider audience.

So on that note, do as ever,  sign up on the news letter and/ or contact me with any thoughts or question. The year ahead is looking really exciting with more features shows and work than I could have imagined.

Thank you for reading.

artistic process artist’s mind artist’s project mother nature perception river saltmarsh seasons working practice

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