Back in late 2014 we asked the local community in Medway to vote for the person who inspired them in the local creative scene. After the tough task of deciding from the nominations who would be awarded the lovely title, it was decided by the judging panel that Xtina Lamb would receive the award for 2015 due to the wonderful work she does in Medway to support local arts.
Xtina helped to form the Medway Fine Printmakers and was a leading part of a collective that created the arts venue, INTRA, at 337-341 on the High Street, Rochester (the old High Street between Chatham and Rochester).
How long have you been doing printing and what made you get into it?
I started printmaking in the late 80s at college, first of all at Ware college with linocut, then on foundation at St Albans doing mono printing and etching and on my degree for a while doing screen printing at Falmouth. I loved it but ended up choosing painting instead for quite a while, and I think that was a good deal down to the lack of prestige afforded to printmaking in the art pecking order. I came back to printmaking when a friend Mark Pawson asked me to join a project he was doing. He invited 10 artists to make a print edition with the cult Japanese machine Print Gocco, which is similar to screen printing but you print with a pressing motion and can use several colours at once. I loved it, bought my own Gocco machine and from there ran courses and took part in several Gocco exhibitions.
From there I got back into screen printing. I’ve always really loved illustrated books and there is something about the quality of a handmade print that I find delicious to look at. I enjoy that there are traditional skills involved, but it’s also a very free medium open to lots of experimentation and an exciting range of marks can be made.
Where did you grow up? What made you choose Medway?
I grew up in Hertfordshire, just north of the M25, but didn’t really like it there much and always wished my family hadn’t moved out of London. I moved to Holloway after college and used an open plan workspace at Craft Central in Clerkenwell for a few years when I first got back to printmaking. I’d been gathering lots of art stuff though and when I had to move to a smaller flat and needed more space for it all, I rented a corner of studio space from Wendy Daws for storage. I had Medway friends through music and small publishing so was already spending time here.
Eventually I moved everything down to my own space at Boundary Wharf (on the border of Rochester and Chatham), when I realised I could have a 600sq foot studio by the river for the price of a box room sized space in London. My neighbour was fortuitously Adam Piper, another printmaker. We got on instantly and between us had amassed an impressive array of printmaking equipment. It made sense to work together, so we formed Medway Fine Printmakers.
What other creative talents do you have?
Before I moved my studio here, I did a week’s residency on Lightship LV21 with my craft gang Seaside Sisters with Gillian Elam and Linda White. We did all sorts of craft workshop events for festivals and craft fairs etc. and ran a giant marquee of craft workshops for the diamond jubilee pageant in Battersea Park. A lot of the activities we like are textile based and I love sewing and embroidery. I’ve also worked as an illustrator, doing book covers, editorial and advertising work. My creative talents don’t extend to music though, apart from I can make some agreeable noises on a musical saw.
Who and what inspires you to keep going?
It’s the people who love coming to INTRA who keep me going in my work. Since moving to this building and setting up an arts venue here that caters for all kinds creative activity, I’ve met so many people who really need art in their lives. I was very lucky to meet Faye Lamb who runs Unravel & Unwind the craft drop-in at INTRA as she brings fantastic energy to the space and has developed a lovely community here.
I spent a time after college where I didn’t make art and it wasn’t good for me at all! The things that inspire me in my art are often related to folklore and superstition. I’ve been making things on a lucky theme for a while and am interested in the ways small superstitious behaviours are so embedded in us we hardly notice them. I love the work that illustrator and curator Barbara Jones did mid last century, and in fact a lot of my favourite artists worked in that period. I can be inspired by a design on a colourful vintage tights packet, or a walk around the British Museum, or a wander in the Scottish highlands.
Tell us something unusual about yourself that most people don’t know?
Something unusual about myself? I have some extra lines on my fingers in between the joint creases. My Dad has them too. I designed a printers fist (the pointy hand symbol you get in old advertising and posters) that has an extra line on the pointing finger to reference my family trait!
Find out more at www.medwayfineprintmakers.co.uk
By Natasha Steer