Birmingham printmaker draws on Nettlefold diaries for inspiration

There's an event on at Winterbourne House this coming Thursday that I'll be very sorry to miss - I could kick myself for not booking earlier! Their current artist in residence Sarah Moss will be giving a talk on her work exploring their archive of photographs, letters and diaries belonging to the Edwardian owners of the house, Margaret and John Nettlefold.  These give wonderful insights into their relationships, work and family life. Over the last year, Sarah has been working on bringing the stories of the family's time at Winterbourne House to life by using traditional print making techniques to create a series of large scale lino cuts in the style of the Kelmscott Chaucer designed and printed by William Morris and illustrated by Edward Burne-Jones. 

Sarah Moss, Working on the first lino cut, 2016

Sarah Moss, Working on the first lino cut, 2016

The first lino cut she completed shows Margaret Chamberlain (as she was then) on her first day at Birmingham School of Art in 1890. In her diary, she wrote about the classes she attended at the Margaret Street building, which would only have been open for fifteen years at that time. Sarah has based the design of the illuminated border on lilies because these feature so heavily in the decoration of the School of Art's facade. She also felt the lilies were appropriate to Margaret's unmarried status at this time.

Sarah Moss, Margaret Chamberlain arrives on her first day at Birmingham School of Art, 2016

Sarah Moss, Margaret Chamberlain arrives on her first day at Birmingham School of Art, 2016

She is currently working on the second lino cut, which will show Margaret's return from her trip to the West Indies in 1907. Sarah's plan is to show her husband John standing on the dock at Southampton waiting for Margaret's ship to arrive. The border will feature tropical plants from the Gilbert Orchid House in the grounds at Winterbourne,

I look forward to seeing the rest of the series, and plan to make my own visit to Winterbourne to find out more about Margaret's time at the School of Art. It'll provide interesting context for our collection of lantern slides taken of classes at the School around this time.