Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I recently came across the amazingly talented Bridget Farmer while browsing through Etsy. Bridget was kind enough to answer a few questions that I could share with my readers. The following are excerpts from our correspondence.
Tell us a little about yourself.
"I am originally from Northern Ireland, I grew up in Belfast. I have always made things and always loved drawing. I did a degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing at Edinburgh Collage of Art in Scotland but realised that wasn't the subject for me. I do have a lot of jeweller friends though which is a bonus! Instead I stuck with my drawing and continued working in that medium. It wasn't until 2006 when I came to Australia to travel and visit friends that I discovered printmaking. I did a weekend course in drypoint printing into perspex and that opened up my new world to me! I found printmaking was a wonderful way to take my drawings further and now I have my own printing press at home! You see, I have two Etsy shops. One for my serious printmaking www.bridgetfarmerprints.etsy.com and one for my gocco screenprints and felt brooches and artist books www.bridbird.etsy.com. I also sell my etchings in galleries in and around Melbourne. And I sell my screenprints and brooches in shops in Melbourne and at markets."
When did you start printmaking?
"I started gocco screenprinting early 2008. I discovered it through Etsy and decided to buy one. Really I'm still experimenting with it, it's difficult to fit everything in the week. Some weeks I concentrate on gocco, other weeks my etchings or felt brooches or artist books. Sometimes I wish I only concentrated on one thing, but I don't think I could work like that! I also did a masters in printmaking at RMIT in Melbourne (but this was more to get a visa and stay in the country because I had met my partner who is Australian!)"
How long have you been making your bird brooches?
"I've been making my 100% natural wool felt hand stitched bird brooches (bit of a mouthful!) for about a year now. I honestly can't remember how I started making them, I think it was just down to playing about with materials. I think it's very important to play and I probably don't do enough of it. I have a website just for them www.featherstitchfantail.blogspot.com . You can see their progression and how they have changed over the year!"
"Now, why birds? ummmmm, I'm just not sure. I've always loved birds, they're just such a pleasing little compact shape. I've tried doing other animals in my bird brooches, but they just weren't as successful. It feels comforting every time I start cutting out the bird shape in the felt, it just feels natural to me.
Now, the birds in my etchings are mainly due to my experience of Australia. I always notice birds where ever i go. At home I can name most birds, but when i came to Australia it was such a shock to me how different they all were and how different it all sounded. I became even more obsessed and had to find out what all the birds were. My bird etchings are sort of like my explorations and discoveries of Australian wildlife."
What is your favorite piece?
"My favourite piece. thats difficult! I have favourite brooches every now and then. Possibly the felt brooch I have at the top of my blog page is one of my favourites. I also like my new gocco prints of my felt brooches, http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=21449154 . I want to make more of these, but haven't had the time yet. With my etchings I think I'm favouring the print that is featured as my home page on my www.bridgetfarmer.com website. It is two Australian crows. I'm still in the process of finishing my website. My computer I was working on just died last week, so I haven't had the chance to finish it off. It's mostly done though!"
Tell us about your success on Etsy.
"Well, I guess I started not really knowing what I was doing, but I knew I had to start in order to sort it out. There was only so much planning that could be done and then the rest had to be learnt by doing! After about 5 months I decided to split my work into two shops to keep my etching separate. This was about the time I was beginning to get picked up by galleries. I was starting a years scolarship at the Australian Print Workshop in Melbourne. I think it took me a good 6 months before I felt settled into Etsy and had regular sales. It's quieted off a lot since the new year, but I'll keep going! I enjoy working from home, we recently moved into such a lovely house that it's a pleasure to be at home.
Next September my boyfriend and I are planning to move back to Belfast for a year or so. I intend to keep working like this, there is a printworkshop there too ( I can't bring my press over, it's so heavy!) which I'm really excited about. It'll be good to have a change, see what new work happens!"
Here are Bridget's websites and blog addresses...
Posted by Wendy Martin at 6:56 PM