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The Comedy of Errors

Art Works: Martha Glazzard

28 January 14

"I’m intrigued by how customs come about and whether they are still observed today"

I’ve been a Morris enthusiast for a long time and it’s what I based my final year degree work on. I’m intrigued by how customs come about and whether they are still observed today. I chose this print of Nev and John accompanying the Mersey Morris Men as it shows something about the people behind the customs. I sent this and another print of a Mersey Morris Man to an email address I found for the team and eventually I heard back from John’s grandson (third active generation of the Morris dancers) who sent me tickets to their annual ceilidh. I went with my mum and danced with some of the men whose photos I had been looking at for three years. It was like being a groupie for a strange celebrity cult I had built up in my head. Everyone I met was brilliant and loved that I wanted to document what they were doing.

What I like about lino as a medium is that it enslaves you. It’s a cruel mistress yet the pain from hunching over it with raw hands pressing into tools becomes a cathartic experience. The whole process is arduous and very unforgiving – one wrong move and the face is gone! I like that though, you have to accept the imperfections. There’s also a sense of removal from what you are observing as it goes through various simplifications: reversal, cack-handed rendering and then off-setting in ink. The work moves further and further from the original image, which is where your own style as a printmaker takes over.

Since the Morris dancers, I’ve been looking at other rituals from Aztec goddesses to buying meat from the butcher. I get inspiration from things like tourism, what we display as humans (from a crab in a tank in a visitor’s centre to the patterns on our clothes), collections, fancy dress, anything that has a sense of custom and purpose. Everything I make into a print I have seen (more or less) - there’s so much to see, I don’t need to make things up.

I’m also doing some collaborative work with printers that combines my garment-making experience with prints from other artists. I collaborated with Tara Hill and we’re both keen to do more, as are some other local screen printers. I’m finishing a PhD at the moment, but I’d love to have more time to work with different materials and products. I’ve done quite a few posters and images for other Nottingham folk like Kneel Before Zod, Burly Nagasaki and I got really involved in Hello Gore’s El Dia De Muertos party.

I’m only just starting to look at printmaking as a commercial venture; I want to set up an online shop under the name ‘Hand Cuts Hand’. The name came from the various creative activities I’ve done, all tending to result in my hands being injured. Anyone who’s ever stabbed their hand with a lino tool will know that you don’t forget doing it.

Martha Glazzard website


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