Le Chéile Information

Le Chéile Background

The collaboration was initiated in August 2004 when Steffan Jones-Hughes, from the Regional Print Studio in Wrexham, visited Ireland on a CCAT Interreg Go and See grant. He met with Margaret Becker in the Leinster Printmaking Studio and they talked about the potential for some sort of print exchange. In October 2006 discussions were followed by exchange visits between artists in both studios.

The seed for this project lay with John Berger's account of his communication through drawing with Marisa Camino. They found the lack of a common (verbal) language an advantage. Twinning with a Welsh partner we began a similar dialogue, where some of us have tried to communicate only through the image. Themes of land, language and place emerged as starting points for this dialogue. It has been both an invigorating and a challenging experience. The work was, and continues to be exchanged by email or post, in notebooks or as first proofs.

What makes this collaboration especially different is the fact that the artists are not working in the same physical space and therefore the work is produced sequentially. There is no face-to-face communication, no interruptions of dialogue, no discussion, and no immediate response. The collaborating artist responds to the work in front of him/her. The work develops at a distance, slowly. Therefore, because of this delayed response, the project is a long term one which is now entering its next phase.

New participants have come on board in Ireland, in Wales and now in Australia. This next phase, while encouraging continued collaborations between established partners, consists of opening up the project to elicit responses to any image by any of the artists, thus encouraging visual dialogue between any two, three or group of participants.

Eileen Keane

I live in Newbridge, Co. Kildare which is about 25 miles south of Dublin but I was brought up in the west of Ireland in Roscommon. I moved to Kildare after college when I got a fulltime job teaching in Naas and I have lived in Kildare ever since, got married there and have two children. I was mainly involved in painting up to 1997, that year I attended a course in the National College of Art and Design and was introduced to printmaking by Taffina Flood of the Graphic studio. I liked the technical aspect of it and the unexpectedness of the results and I joined the Leinster Printmaking studio when it was set up in 1998. I work mostly with carborundum and collograph as it suits the textural quality of my work but sometimes combine this with photoetch especially in the use of text.

My work is inspired by organic forms abstracted mainly from landscape studies. I am interested in the linear quality of openings in natural surfaces that suggest layers beneath of time and history. I use a layering of textures in much of my work, and at the moment have used formal rectangular shapes to frame textural areas and create a kind of window effect. When I started working with my welsh twin Linda on the idea of home and memory we started with maps and I began to work on imagery inspired by the bog near my home- Mouds bog- exploring its physical presence through making collographs from materials found on the bog and also its history of burial rituals and its inspiration for poets such as Seamas Heaney. I used a map of this bog in several of the pieces and also some text to represent memories or to give the bog its own voice in language.

I am also a writer and am very interested in words and language. I am fairly fluent in Gaelic but do not speak it at home and was very interested to see how much the welsh language is part of everyday life in Wales as I assumed it was the same as here with only a few isolated places speaking Gaelic every day. This project has widened the scope of my work with a broader use of ideas, from texture to text and mapping and has given me an interest in making more artists books as this was something I discussed with Linda and she sent me some information on technical aspects. I look forward to developing these ideas further over the course of the next year.

Margaret Becker

Margaret was born in Dublin, grew up in Ireland and attended the National College of Art, Dublin. Graduated with teachers certificate, moved to Rome for a one year residency, attending the free school of painting and joined an toir gloinne stained glass studio and worked on commisions for stained glass windows throughout Ireland, England and America. Joined graphic studio Dublin, and studied printmaking with John Kelly and Liam O'Brion. Awarded Biennal prize for print in Listowel Writers week , Co. Kerry; awarded 1st prize for stained glass panel at international exhibition celebrating the centenary of "The Messenger " magazine , in Dublin; has exhibited in major exhibitions in Ireland, Holland, Belgium, France and USA. Moved to Clane, Co. Kildare and founded the Leinster print studio in 1998. Recently illustrated book of poetry by Desmond Egan with silk screens. Now lives and works from her studio in Loughanure, Clane, Co. Kildare

I like printmaking, as it is a "hands on" medium, like stained glass, there is the visual and the practical involvement, which is exciting and appealing to me. The collaboration with the welsh printmakers has opened up numerous doors, both artistically and culturally, leading to other international printmakers becoming involved with our studio, which will lead on to future exhibitions with many more print makers, which is more then we thought would happen when we started the venture.

Don Braisby

Much of my early childhood was spent with my grandparents in the Scottish Borders. My parent’s home was in Gloucestershire on the South Wales Borders. I am now living in the border country of North Wales. I have sense of comfort in living on the borders always being drawn towards the Celtic, which I believe is a state of being rather than a place.

In my work as an artist print maker I’m drawn into exploring the area between conscious and unconscious, the borderland state of hypnagogia the world between the dream and the waking.

As a printmaker I find an excitement, in that in that once a mark is started I’m committed to following it to its completion. The listening place is where self and non self meet. I create images using a variety of printmaking techniques watching and responding to the image as it emerges. The mark making process has a level of unpredictability that means that no print is identical. Plate making has a sculptural and sensuous quality the image is explored intuitively being uncovered and exposed. The print is a shadow memory of the creative journey. It is said that every external journey has an internal reflection. My work is a personal record of my exploration of self and other, through journey and place. The narrative is articulated using the language of abstraction and metaphor.

The finished work requires a viewer. In fact the image demands to be seen as this is how it becomes alive. This is when a new narrative is forged between the image and others viewing it. The relationship developed between the image and viewers depends on an interplay and resonance between the image the viewers and their memories, dreams and experiences. The title of a piece may direct the viewer to make a specific relationship with it. I prefer the the relationship between the viewer and my work to be unmediated by titles, the ones I provide should be seen as my introduction of the image to the viewer. Roland Barthes describes what he calls the punctum in pictures it is an unintentional point in a picture that captures a viewer and arrests the gaze that was not intended by the by the artist. The punctum is the tiny shock, a satori a moment of connection.

Veronica Calarco

I grew up in a small town in East Gippsland, Victoria in a big family. Escaping as soon as possible, over the next thirty years I achieved my aim of living in every state in Australia and studying printmaking at the ANU, ACT. Whilst at uni I became involved in working in community arts and continued as a community artist in the ACT for the next decade, working at Megalo Access Arts (a printmaking access facility) and coordinating shields as part of Women In Action (a series of workshops and exhibitions of approximately 600 women’s work) and working with the Multicultural Arts Office and DADA, curating exhibitions and coordinating arts projects, doing technical assistant work for artists and completing an artist in residence at Parliament House, ACT. During this period I participated mainly in group exhibitions in Australia, France and Asia (I was accepted as a member of the Asia Fibre Art Exhibition). In 2002 I moved to the Kimberley in Western Australia to work for the Kimberley Language Resource Centre and in 2003 to Alice Springs to managed an Arts Disability project and run an Aboriginal Art Centre, where I became involved in the art community and began again to focus on my own artwork, participating in several group shows. In 2004 I decided to focus full-time on my art, travelling between Wales and Australia; moving to Port Adelaide and continuing with group exhibitions and participating in artist-in-residence programs: Thirning Villa, Ashfield Council, Sydney, Regional Print Centre, Wales, United Kingdom, Digital Weaving, working with Vibeke Vestby in Norway and Grindell Hut, Flinders Ranges.

Moving to the Kimberley’s was significant for my work and the way I viewed my work – for the first time in my life I faced true isolation and was confronted directly by the harshness of a misused environment. I had no equipment with which to work (as a printmaker and weaver I had always used presses or looms) and had not developed a language to speak of what I was seeing and experiencing. To find a language and to try to get some understanding of my experiences I began to sew on bandages as a way of developing my own symbols of the Kimberley. Gradually I began to find a language in which to express myself through the use of landscapes and mudmaps. I completed a series of mudmaps that were drawn for me to show me areas in which I could go walking and camping. These ‘maps’ are woven in a double-cloth pick-up. In 2004 I started learning Welsh and was told that Mae drwgg gen i (I’m sorry) meant ‘it is sorrow I have’ (literally translated is: ‘it is badness I have’). The words ‘it is sorrow I have’ sum up my feelings of the land we live in and what has been done to it. I am currently attempting to portray this feeling in my images, looking at the marks we leave on the land.

Whilst living in North Wales, taking Welsh lessons, I met Steffan Jones-Hughes (coordinator of the Regional Print Centre) who invited me to do an artist in residence. Le Chéile was just beginning and on being invited to join, I headed over to Ireland with Linda Davies and Alison Craig to meet the Irish mob. Arriving back in Australia I continued to work with Andrew Smith for the project and in 2008 met Rob Johnson from Country Arts SA and thus the idea for Le Chéile to come to Australia was born.

Jan Copeman

Alison Craig

Alison Craig was born and brought up in Britain: her father is a Scot from Aberdeen, and her mother was English. Alison has drawn and painted all her life, and after working for many years in the National Health Service she became a full-time artist. She moved to rural North Wales in 1990.

“My work is grounded in my love of observational drawing, a process which allows me to investigate my surroundings and experience them more intimately. Using the traditional disciplines of painting, drawing & printmaking, I record my responses to the subject rather than trying to depict it with clinical accuracy. Most of my current work derives from my interest in the natural world and, specifically, in the countryside around my home in rural North Wales where the land has been shaped by the weather and the activities of humankind through the ages. The curves of the hillsides and the interlocking patterns of the field boundaries combine under the influence of the changing seasons to provide a unique landscape. The countryside is at once ever-changing and everlasting: the evidence of past centuries is all around us, and the land will survive in some form even after the depredations of its present occupants. It is this sense of continuity which drives my desire to explore the landscape.”

Branwen Davies

I was born in St David's Wales, the third and last child for my Welsh speaking father and Wales loving, English/Irish mother. As kids we could all recite poems in Welsh though it was the days of suppressing the language as far as schooling went. Not a concern for me as we arrived in Australia to live when I was four. Thus Wales has been a very particular place in my mind: king tides at Christmas flooding roads; the car breaking down in the snow on Christmas eve on the way home from visiting Mamgu (pronounced mamgi/grandmother); vague memories of an extended family who in Australia became people I always knew about from letters...forty years of letters about mamgu, my aunties, uncles, cousins and my parents’ friends. There have been occasional visits back and forth. I am happy to have grown up in Australia for the sun, the land, big sky and relaxed attitudes. And the life I may have in Wales is one I can barely imagine, beyond the rain!

I studied printmaking at East Sydney Technical College and the University of South Australia's school of art but haven't been able to pay it sufficient attention. I find the nature of the artform continues to perplex the way my mind works. Printmaking means thinking in reverse (the image on the plate is the reverse of the print) and pulling the proposed image apart to lay down each colour separately.

My work in this exhibition is monoprints. They are prints in that they go through a press and produce an image from a plate. For me they are like drawing and painting because I can make all the marks more directly-with a brush, a stylus or a rag, using fluid oil paint rather than stiff printing ink. In practice, monoprints can have many colours laid over each other, going through the press with each new colour layer. I prefer painting the complete image. Once printed, I rework the plate to make a slightly different image. And so I build a series of related prints.

Veronica Calarco, Helen Kavanagh and I have collaborated for this project. We began by writing ten words each that conjured the notion of diaspora; we swapped these about and drew a few images each that the words inspired; we swapped the drawings and made prints based our reinterpretation of the others’ drawings. We made more drawings, swapped, printed, drew again and on it went. We didn’t know each other very well to begin with, but by printing together we quickly learnt a lot about all our idiosyncrasies! I felt it was a strong equal partnership. I had most to learn about printmaking and felt fortunate to have two different working styles to draw on. Our styles are distinctive. I was fascinated to see the ambiguous figures I use appear in scenes of the others’ making. In some of the monoprints I’ve reclaimed them.

Linda Davies

Part of this current body of work is the result of collaboration with Irish printmaker Eileen Keane. Elements of this collaboration have focused on the concept of land and cultural identity. A common interest of ours was ancient lands and archaeological findings.

I have always been fascinated by sacred sites and whether some places intrinsically “hold” sacredness. Having previously researched ritual deposition within Wales, I was intrigued by the bog bodies and artefact findings discovered in the Irish bog lands.

During the collaboration we also explored the notion of how land and its usages shaped communities and cultural identities. Eileen’s stories of working on the family peat lands -now a lost industry-resonated with my own childhood in a mining village in the South Wales Valleys.

Monica de Bath

Biodh go bhfuil mo shaothar bunaithe go háitiúl tá tionchar ag an dearcadh faoi inscne agus tir air.

While my work is sited at rural locations its concerns are informed by attitudes and values to gender and land. My practice explores the connections between people and land with which they work and interact. It is concerned with emotive layers that link us to previous generations, and the changing value of land, which has been shaped and reshaped by our interaction with it.

I was born in a small rural village in Co. Laois and grew up speaking both Irish and English. I studied Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and am currently studying for a Masters in Visual Arts Practice. Most of my printmaking I learned from being involved in the Leinster Print Studio, a place I value for networking and collaborations with other artists, such as Le Chéile. Having an opportunity to collaborate with artists, across the seas allows me to engage in a visual language with a like-minded person who is also communicating the temporality of a place and of a time.

My temporary studio looks across to the old sod peat collection area of Ballydermot Works near Rathangan in County Kildare, Ireland. It is sited on the bog of Allen and sits beside a massive workshop where machines for harvesting the peat are maintained and housed. Ballydermot is a place where workspace meets bog, where the old Hunslett locomotive with its well worn blue-black seat stands beside a line of loading wagons.

My prints attempt to communicate a sense of this place and a trace of the people who inhabit and work it.

Pamela de Brí

My work incorporates my interest in Irish culture, language and traditions with the changes that are happening in 21st century Ireland.

I am interested in how art fits into society and how artists have used their work to comment on or respond to our changing world both socially and economically. I like art that subverts, that challenges the viewer’s sensibility. I am particularly interested in art that breaks boundaries in a subtle or humourous way, art that critiques the art world itself as well as the values and trends that result from social or political changes.

Tá suim agam sa Ghaeilge agus in oidhreacht na hÉireann. Meabhraíonn mo chuid oibre na hathrúcháin atá ag tarlú in Éirinn faoi láthair, chomh maith le staid na hÉireann san 21ú aois.

Is péintéir agus priontálaí mé ach oibrím freisin i 4d. Is ball mé de VAI, Kildare Artists, den Leinster Printmaking Studio agus den ghrúpa d’ealaíontóirí comhaimseartha ‘10 to 12’.


Jan Gardner

My life has been spent embedded deep in the creative milieu of art and engaging others in the creative process. I am passionate about my own work, I am inspired by colour, texture, mark-making, drawing, expression and decoration.

I was born and brought up in Flintshire, North Wales, my spirit and soul is deeply rooted here, recently returning to it after many years travelling I love to remember places, journeys, stories and use my imagination, memory, dreams and music.

I have returned to print-making to re-discover the range of processes that compliment and encourage the embellishing processes that I use in my mixed media images, always striving for unique spaces imbued with subtle, intense, exuberant and gentle surfaces.


Sylvia Hemmingway

My work usually centres around the persistence of the past in the present and the element of chance in the make-up of the individual.

Rebecca Homfray

Steffan Jones-Hughes

This piece is me, as a bird. I moved back to Wales in 2002, having been born in Bangor, I had never lived here. I was born while my parents were studying at the Royal College of Art in London. My Father is Welsh and my Mother of Irish parentage, I had been brought up in London and North West England, but had maintained a strong link with family in Wales. There is always a need within all of us to find our roots, to find where we belong, where we come from, and this was something that I began to explore on my return to Wales and was partly why I wanted to create some kind of exchange between Wales and Ireland. My mother’s family had moved over to Holyhead from Ireland and established a business. When I moved to the village where I live now I discovered that my Grandfather had been born three miles away, that his father could well have delivered the post to my home. I have since discovered that I live within a few miles of a half aunt, but that’s another story.

Helen Kavanagh

From 1994 – 1998 I worked towards a number of solo exhibitions in South Australia and Victoria. My subject matter was family life and motherhood. During this time I was commission as a master printer and was the Co-ordinator of the South Australian Print Workshop. Sadly the SAPW no longer operates. At the start I thought what have I GOT MYSELF INTO. The idea of working closely with other people on art work was strangely scary and exciting at the same time. I thought to myself “It’s not community artwork and it’s not strictly my own artwork” what is it? So the concept did not come easily to me.

Exploring methods of collaboration was a process in itself. Should we work on the one piece or work individually using each others ideas, we decided the latter.

When we got down to making the work I felt an obligation to use all the ideas presented by Veronica and Branwyn. Then resolved that these ideas were like a box of chocolates, you only take what you need.

The Gippsland bush fires started in my home town of Boolarra early February 2009. Veronica and I both grew up in Gippsland so we had a connection and understanding of the place.

Most of my images were completed with the bush fires in mind with the help of Branwyn’s criss cross representation of fire and Veronica’s winding road and vast hills were incorporated into my work.

The tragedy of the bush fires unravelled during our collaboration and is manifest most strongly in the book that Veronica and I made.

Eirian Llwyd

Eirian trained as a nurse but has always been interested in art, and seriously began to pursue her career in 1997 when she began a part time degree course in Coleg Menai, Bangor. She transferred to a full time course in UWIC Cardiff two years later, and graduated in Fine Art in 2001. Whilst at Cardiff, she began her interest in printmaking under the encouragement of her art tutor, Tom Piper. Since graduating, she has been a full time artist/printmaker, and her work can be seen at various exhibitions.

I love the challenge and possibilities that printmaking offers me as an artist. Most of my prints are to do with a sense of place and have been inspired by Anglesey and the impact of moving to the island had on me. There are a significant number of prehistoric and Celtic relics on Anglesey reminding us of our roots and place in history and how a people and identity and language can survive. I use a range of traditional printmaking processes such as etching on copper, colograph, stone lithography, woodcut, linocut and monoprint.

Ros Longwill

I started painting twenty five years ago when I lived in Essex. As I moved around England the painting and gardening were constant companions. I have done lots of different things from keeping pigs to sign-writing. I had a period of teaching horticulture then moved to Ireland sixteen years ago with my family. I became a clown and studied performing arts and went round with a red nose for about a year. I then decided it was probably time to be a proper grown up and started teaching art which I did for about ten years and only gave up two years ago. I started Print making about eight years ago when my students went to have a workshop with Margaret Becker and ended up knowing considerably more than me. I took myself off to have some private lessons and quickly became completely hooked. I now spend all my artistic time printing but still enjoy gardening and have a few cows.

The Le Chéile collaboration interests me because it brings together different strands of what together means to each of us. At Nant Gwtheyrn there was much talk of language, memories of place, family and a unique sense of identity. Nant Gwtheyrn is a powerful place and the history and atmosphere contained there links into some of these strands. The lost community was tied to the work and the land. This is something I came across when collecting material for work about the bog in Ireland. It is interesting how the landscape can be shaped by a manmade intervention. The bog railway track, pile of turf or in the case of Nant Gwtheyrn the huge remains of mining and quarrying equipment are testimony to the work. The reversion and dereliction of an abandoned workplace brings those memories and that emptiness back. These are some of the ideas I am trying to explore at the moment.

Deirdre Shanley

Deirdre Shanley grew up in Johnstown Bridge, a small village near Enfield, Co. Kildare, Ireland. She first studied printmaking as part of a Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education at Birmingham College of Art and Design and she is a founder member of the Leinster Print Studio. She won the prize for Best Emerging Artist at Eigse in 2002.

Deirdre likes the experimental nature of Printmaking and the combining of different techniques to achieve the final image. She especially favours carborundum for it's closeness to painting and the richness of colour obtained from the process.

The Collaboration with Alison Craig has opened Deirdre up to many new ideas and new ways of working. She has found it a very good learning experience. It has been an uncertain journey at times, made up of different stages , all the while work being posted over and back between the two artists and the sketchbook being a very important part of the dialogue.

Andrew Smith

As a painter my practice is inherently studio based and I work in a dedicated light filled space. The subject of colour has been the overriding concern leading to the analysis of shape and surface in relation to colour-space-areas. Due to geographic location and issues of cultural context my practice has included the idea of exchange. Where and how an artwork is made and shown has become an integral function leading to the formation of collaborative partners.

Edge of Land (Borderlakes) and After Copley were made as part of Le Chéile: the Welsh/Irish collaborative printmaking exchange, created between the Regional Print Centre, Wrexham and Leinster Print Studio, Clane, Ko. Kildare. In this project new ideas and works were to be made on a twinning collaborative principle. Artists not previously introduced would work together producing new work along the broad themes of land and identity. Eilish McCann and myself embarked on a collaborative exchange of ideas and this was further realised as productive artwork with Veronica Calarco. Distance and place have been recurring themes as regions and continents are crossed in the dialogue of creative communication. The edge of land and borders imply crossing, or the need to cross, lines and territories to other unfamiliar places. Overall our dialogue has been local and familiar (everyday), but also considering the wider issues of land and place, territory and location.

current art practice: http://energystations.blogspot.com/

Tracy Sweeney

I am a creator who begins with deconstruction. My dismantled recordings of everyday surfaces are re-assembled together side-by side, creating an austere surface of colour & texture. The quiet segments within my work allow the mind to rest & wander into the drama & energy of the adjacent surface. Each print retains immediate connection with architectural significance on the surface yet hints at the underlying reality beneath each fragment; time passes, things fall to neglect or damage at the hands of the passer-by.

It equally excites & frustrates me to make a print that becomes ‘real’ in the weightiness of its stains & symbols. It is difficult work to make a print look stark; as if the very least has been done to achieve my artistic vision. The frustration, excitement & challenge are integral to each of my compositions.


Diana Williams

In 1974—1977 I studied art at college in Bangor. After graduating I spent two years in Milan, Italy studying the work of the Masters and travelling the length and breadth of the country. Upon my return I took up a teaching post at a Secondary school teaching art. I spent time teaching in a primary school and was then appointed as an Art Advisory Teacher by Gwynedd County Council in 1987.

In 1999—2000 I lectured part time at the University for the TAR course in Art. In the year 2000 I was appointed Deputy Head of a local school and am released from teaching duties from time to time to hold art courses for teachers and assistants by the local education authority.

As my three children are now in their teens I resumed an interest in painting preparatory to an exhibition to be held at Theatr Gwynedd, Novemeber 2006.

Since then I have exhibited at Oriel Glyn y Weddw, Llanbedrog, Oriel Môn and various galleries across Wales. I was commissioned to paint a scene from Liverpool to celebrate ‘Liverpool the European Capital of Culture, 2008’ and have appeared on the Welsh TV Programme ‘Wedi 7’ to discuss my artwork this Easter.

This year also saw the fruition of a Welsh/Irish collaboration at a venue in the Graphic Studio, Dublin and Newbridge, Ireland.

Most of my work is mixed media, printmaking and textiles.

Ian Williams

I am a painter and printmaker, based in the Vale of Clwyd, North Wales. My work is generally based on day-to-day experiences, and set in the modern rural landscape, but abstracted so as to render any narrative and meaning obscure. I like to weave thoughts and internal imagery into the work, because these are part of ones reality, even whilst standing on top of a mountain.

I am interested in symbolism, and how signs are interpreted by different people and cultures. Lately I have been particularly interested in the cross, which can take on many meanings, beyond the religious or the patriotic. Interpretation and meaning are always subjective; the symbolism you might see in my work is your symbolism rather than mine.

My photographs of "found crosses" worked well with Pamela de Brí's intaglio prints of ancient maps and scripts, so I blended them to make these digital prints, which in turn will be used as a basis for the next phase of collaboration.