Meet The Maker: Corinne Welch

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

As we head into the final furlong before the moment you’ve all been waiting for (right?) we get to go a gift fairing at Colston Hall one more time (hurrah!), we would like to invite you to pause for a few moments and enjoy the final interview in our current Meet the Maker series. If we were giving out prizes, today’s artist would win a patterned paper rosette for the cutest place name of where they live (although we would give it a catchier title than that as it wouldn’t fit on the rosette). Anyway, without further ado…

Parade – August 12th 1961
A box of 10 collages created from one mouse-chewed magazine found in Corinne's garage. Digitally printed with collaged detail on box. (£12)

What do you love most about your chosen discipline?
I have always had a bit of a thing for paper – my favourite Christmas present as a child was a large box of different coloured papers… although I was given this when I was 7, I was still using remnants from it for my Art GCSE. So my studio with a whole plan chest chock-full of paper really is the stuff of childhood dreams.

Twenty Trees (as seen from a train): Riso printed tiny concertina book documenting trees sketched on a train journey from Bristol Parkway to Didcot Parkway (with train times on the endpapers). (£8)
What is currently your must popular piece of work?
A small twenty-page concertina book called ‘Twenty Trees (as seen from a train)’ is my best-selling book. It’s risograph printed, and based on sketches of trees I made on a train journey between Bristol and Didcot. The endpapers show the destination and times of the start and endpoint. Although it’s essentially a collection of drawings of trees, the story of the train journey seems to have a wide appeal. Tiny books are always the most popular… if in doubt, make it small.

Drawing from nature: Corinne takes inspiration from her natural surroundings
What are some of your biggest creative influences or inspirations?
A lot of my illustration work is for environmental charities, such as the Wildlife Trusts, and I find the natural world is my biggest inspiration. I’m also influenced by the work of other book artists, specifically at the moment by the folded books of Hedi Kyle. Her structures are so innovative, and I’m very excited to be introduced to lots of new formats in her recently published book, The Art of the Fold. I regularly attend the Artist’s Book Club (ABC) at UWE, and I’ve found the workshops and talks there to be a big influence over the past year.

Corinne's studio in Coombe Dingle full of inspiring objects
Describe your studio or workspace…
I’m fortunate to have a studio space in my home, overlooking the woodland of Blaise Castle Estate. My computer desk is at one end of the room, and open shelves for storage at the other, with my plan chest and a sink inbetween. The bookshelves are currently over-flowing, so I have a plan to squeeze in more storage soon. I’d like my studio to be tidier than it is, but I’m always working on lots of projects at once, and I seem to thrive on creative chaos, so I don’t try too hard to counter this inclination.

Paper, patterns and glue: a glimpse into Corinne's process
Tell us what your creative process is like…
I love the planning process almost as much as the making, and it can often be quite a while between an initial idea for a book (usually hastily typed onto my phone notes or scribbled in a sketchbook) and the completed edition being made. I really enjoy the element of decision-making and control over the creative process. Choosing an appropriate format of book, the correct paper, a relevant choice of typeface, the right medium of illustration and/or printing. Strangely, I also like the repetition involved in making an edition of books – there is something quite meditative about creating something by hand in duplicate, and very satisfying when the different stages of the process come together in a pile of completed books.

Forest: Double concertina book of rubber stamp stencil prints of trees. Digitally printed with hardback covers and bellyband. (£12)
What are some of the biggest challenges in your work?
The biggest challenge I find is being able to carve out enough time to make books. I work five days a week as a designer/illustrator, but as a minimum I always spend between 8 and 9 in the morning working on my books – it’s a good creative start to the day. A lot of the processes of bookmaking require drying and pressing time, so where possible I use screen breaks to do a batch of glueing or making covers, which helps to keep some momentum going.

Fiery Words 1-3: A set of three tiny books contained in matchboxes, illustrating fire-related literary quotes from Charles Bukowski, Cormac McCarthy and W.B Yeats. Available to buy individually (£6) or as a set of three (£15).
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Right now, I’m very fond of a beautiful white enamel necklace by Ava and Bea which was a Christmas present from my partner last year. He bought it after he saw me coveting it at the Made in Bristol Gift Fair at the Colston Hall. It’s a very simple design, but I absolutely love it and have worn it all year.

Pot Plants: Small concertina book of pot plant prints, with rubber stamped hardback cover and endpapers. (£6)
What do you do when you are stuck in a creative rut?
My creaking book shelves of art and design books usually provide a much-needed creative boost. I also enjoy responding to briefs for book competitions, as this often requires tackling new subject matter, which can set me off in a different direction and stop me getting stuck in a rut. Failing that, a good old-fashioned walk with my dog is usually the best way to clear my head and press a re-set button.

Celebrating the everyday: trees, buildings, birds are encapsulated in Corinne's tiny books
Where would you like to be in ten years time?
Being self-employed for so long, it’s been a while since I’ve had to answer a question like that. I would like to continue working for myself, and hopefully be able to take my foot off the pedal a little with my design and illustration work so I have more time for making books. I’ve recently started teaching a few workshops in printmaking and folded books, which I’ve really enjoyed and I would definitely like to develop this side of my work. My main aim for the next ten years would be to spend less hours a day glued to a screen and more time working with my hands.

Thanks Corinne. We look forward to seeing you at the Made in Bristol Gift Fair on Saturday! 

Photos courtesy Corinne Welch.

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