New Prints: Elspeth Lamb RSA (Elect)

RSA Friends Room Exhibition


Elspeth Lamb has a long history of contributing to printmaking around the world and is considered one of the best printers on lithographic limestone, especially known for her beautiful, grease tusche washes. In her studio, she utilises both traditional lithography and digitised printed images from aluminium plate.


She has recently returned from a trip to Canada, where she collaborated with Alan Flint, a master printer and professor at McMaster University, near Toronto. With only limited resources available at the recently set up Print Studio in Hamilton, the inventive pair produced a multi-coloured combination print entitled ‘Cosmic Lake’ using pochoir and woodcut techniques. The ‘pochoir’ method is the same technique as that used by Matisse to produce his famous ‘Jazz’ series. ‘Cosmic Lake’ was based on a digital image taken in rural Japan, put through several filters in Photoshop and broken down into simplified images. Each print was produced by cutting shapes into mylar (thin acetate) and dabbing coloured ink through each of these stencils to create areas of colour. The image was built up using several stencils, and finally two wood blocks were carved and printed over the top. Elspeth has been accustomed to using very complex techniques, working with digital printing and multi-coloured separations, and she has enjoyed the low-tech aspect of this project and the different results produced through pochoir printing.


Elspeth has several works in progress, including a soon-to-be-published text book, Papermaking for Printmakers, and a project involving paper which she made in Japan which features images of extinct animals produced by watermarking the sheets, but her other recently finished project is her livre d’artiste, Nagasawa Cantrips. This is a stunning artist’s book of lithographs, the title using old Scots and Japanese as cleaver language where ‘cantrips’ translates as ‘magic’ or ‘spells’. Nagasawa Cantrips is a reflection of the artist’s experiences in the Nagasawa region of Japan. The images in this book create an entry into a world of fairy-tale magic, often with the dominant image of a beautiful, oval mirror, and feature many-layered glorious colours and colour combinations, where elements of text – Japanese, Lewis Carroll and Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queen – combine with the visual image.


Elspeth studied at Glasgow School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University and the prestigious Tamarind Institute of Lithography, University of New Mexico, USA, her main specialism being printmaking. She is an elected RSA Academician, and an elected member of the Society of Scottish Artists and Royal Glasgow Institute, and has taught several workshops in lithography at the Joan Miro Foundation in Mallorca, Spain. She has won several awards for her work, which is also included in major collections such as the Japanese Consular Collection, The British Council, the MAG Collection, and the Joan Miro Foundation Collection, as well as being represented in several British Art Galleries and Museums.