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Flora McLachlan

I work in my print workshop in West Wales, on the edge of a wild moor, surrounded by lichened trees. I’m a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE). I am currently doing an MA in Fine Art at Aberystwyth School of Art.

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My work grows out of the experience of observing the landscape and the process of translating this experience into print. As I work on my pictures, I want to evoke a single charmed moment out of time, a magical vision that stills. The scene is our ancient and enchanted landscape, roamed by guardian spirit-like animals, shadowed by woods where the holly springs green amongst the bare oaks and beeches. 

I am inspired by the fairy tales I grew up reading, and by the motif of the quest in the medieval romance poetry I read during my English degree. I see it as a venturing outwards and also inwards, entering the wild unruly forest of trees and thorns, searching for a transforming glimpse of the white hart. 

For me etching is a slow and reflective process. The image moves through many stages of biting in the mordant, as I add layers of line, texture, shadow and meaning, watching the image slowly become itself. I want the image to look like a weathered relic from the distant past, briefly come alive for us to see.

Etching is the ideal medium for my purpose, with its mysterious blacks and glowing, darkened whites. Working the metal plate to make it show delicate watercolour washes or deep dark gouged marks is endlessly fascinating. 

I bite heavy time-worn textures into my plates using soft ground, either making shadowy layered transfer drawings with soft pencils, or impressing textures into the soft ground with cut, carved and scored collagraph plates, to give the feeling of an old woodcut. Then I like to take this flat impression and scrape and burnish the light back in, sculpting the metal. Painting cloudy washes of spit bite aquatint over the image brings it to life, gives it weather, frees the waters of the waste land.

I also make lithographs, drawing freely with crayons, pen and wash onto the lithographic limestone which I process with gum arabic and nitric acid to chemically fix the drawing into the stone and allow it to be repeatedly inked and printed. Lithography gives a painterly immediacy. It's such a direct and spontaneous approach to making an image and I find it complements etching really well. As it is such a fluid medium I am experimenting with printing the image as a changing series, developing the drawing with additions and subtractions through many states. I enjoy seeing the image accrue textures and tones; a palimpsest of thoughts building up. I add to this by overprinting layers drawn on different stones.

My print workshop lies under the shadow of the Preseli hills. I print my own work on my large and small Rochat etching presses.

I also have two direct lithographic presses and a large collection of stones. 



2018 - 2021

MA Fine Art (Printmaking), Aberystwyth School of Art, Aberystwyth University

1994 - 1997

MA (Oxon) English, Brasenose College, Oxford

1993 - 1994

Art Foundation, Brighton College of Technology

Awards and Residencies

2019                   Norman Ackroyd Prize for Etching, Impressions Print Biennial, Galway, Ireland

2019                   First Prize, Remarque 6th International Juried Print Exhibition, Albuquerque, NM, USA

2019                   Winner of the 2019 funded residency at Stiwdio Maelor, Corris, Wales

2018                   Voted Printmakers’ Printmaker for Printfest 2019

2018                   Eclogue I selected for RE ‘Print Rebels’ portfolio and touring exhibition

2018                   Saxa Loquntuur Lithography Residency, Marcilhac-sur-Célé, France

2014                   Canns Down Press Prize, RE Original Prints

2012                   Zenith Purchase Prize, RE Summer Exhibition



2019                 Forthcoming: Oct 7th - 15th Nov, Into the forest of the night, Aberystwyth School of Art

2017                 In the forest, Cambridge Contemporary Art, a two-person show with sculptor Paul Smith

2013                 Heartwood, paintings and prints, Art Jericho, King Street, Oxford


2019              Moon Gazing, Fitzroy House, Lewes, curated by Sarah O'Kane Contemporary Fine Art

2019              Drawing Now, Rye Art Gallery, Rye, East Sussex

2019              Print Rebels: Haden, Palmer, Whistler and the Origins of the RE, Aberystwyth School                              of Art Galleries, 28th Feb - 2nd May

2018              The Masters: Screen and Stone, curated by Chris Orr RA at Bankside Gallery, London

2018              Encounters Cymru at Impact 10 Print Symposium, Santander

2018              National Original Print Exhibition at Bankside Gallery, London

2018              Craft Centre and Design Gallery, Leeds

2017               Sarah Wiseman Gallery, Oxford

2017               London Original Print Fair, Royal Academy of Art, London
2017               West Dean Art and Craft Fair, West Sussex
2017               Printfest, Ulverston
2017               Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, London, with Hicks Gallery and Edition3 

2016              Brighton Art Fair
2016              The Masters - Etching at Bankside Gallery, London, curated by Norman Ackroyd RA
2016              One of a Kind, an exhibition of monoprints at Emma Mason Gallery, Eastbourne

 2016             Printfest, Ulverston
2014              Print selected by Norman Ackroyd RA for RA in Yorkshire at Zillah Bell Gallery
2014              Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

My work is in the collections of the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and HM the Queen.

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