Charlotte Cornish has been working professionally as a printmaker and painter for over 25 years. Currently based in Cambridge, she regularly exhibits in a number of galleries and also works with art consultants. Charlotte undertakes commissions and her work is held in numerous public, corporate and private collections, including several colleges in Cambridge University.
After graduating from BA Printmaking at Brighton University in 1990, she went on to do post graduate studies in printmaking at The Slade School of Art and Central St Martins in London.
I can’t believe that I finished my degree in printmaking at Brighton University thirty years ago. I really loved living and studying in Brighton. The town was lively and exciting, and the art college, with it’s great reputation and fantastic printmaking facilities, (those wonderful top floor printmaking studios flooded with light were memorable!), gave me such a brilliant opportunity. The location of the art college so close to the seafront had an enormous influence on how my work developed during my three years there. For my final degree show I made large, brightly coloured screen prints inspired by the pier and seafront attractions – colour, noise, lights, movement – an atmosphere of celebration, holiday escapism, gaudy and brash intensity. The work was created as a response to my direct environment, and it was this sense of place as inspiration that to this day has continued as a theme throughout my work.
After my degree I was very keen to go on to study at postgraduate level, and I was thrilled to get a place at The Slade School of Art in London, continuing to specialise in printmaking. Professor Bartolemeu Dos Santos was the head of the postgraduate printmaking course. He was a well known Portuguese artist/printmaker, who had a deep and intense relationship with printmaking, especially the processes of etching and aquatint. I learnt so much from him – not only from his experience and expertise in printmaking, but also his engagement with culture and politics. He was quite an extraordinary man. A few years after I finished at The Slade, I was asked, along with a few other past students, to assist him on two commissioned projects he was working on in Portugal – to create large etched stone panels for the walls of the Entre Campos Metro station in Lisbon, and for the walls of the escalator at the entrance of the new Macau Museum, in Macau. These were such memorable experiences, especially the trip to Macau to see the opening of the museum, and opened up my world immeasurably.
During my two years studying at The Slade I was also fortunate to be taught by many other inspirational artists. Albert Irvin and John Hoyland visited to give tutorials. I shared these particular artists’ passion for working with colour, and as my work was at that time becoming increasingly abstracted, I loved looking at their work and visiting their exhibitions. It was a privelege to be living in London where I could so easily see many interesting and important exhibitions. I still look at catalogues that I bought from many of the shows I saw during that time, and I continue to try to get to see exhibitions of artists’s work that I admire.
After finishing the course at The Slade I was offered a place on the part time Advanced Printmaking Course at Central St Martins, allowing me to continue to develop and explore the mediums of printmaking. At the same time I also spent three years as an Honorary Research Assistant back at The Slade, concentrating my time in the screen printing room, helping the postgraduate students alongside making my own work. These years of study and research were a great opportunity for me to develop my experience and expertise in printmaking, and also allowed me the opportunity to continue to make prints. I was fortunate that at my final degree show in Brighton, and also my postgraduate shows at the Slade, and Central St Martins, I sold a considerable amount of my work. I also made contacts with art consultants and galleries, and so it was from early on that I began to regularly sell pieces of my work.
After finishing my studies I did some part time lecturing in printmaking at De Montfort University and then, in my late twenties, I made the huge, and rather daunting, decision to try to make a career solely from making and selling my work. At that time I was mainly making prints, but as facilities were expensive to access, I was also starting to make paintings. I was offered my first gallery solo exhibition of paintings and prints at Cambridge Contemporary Art in 1997. Since that time I have continued to make and sell my work, through galleries and art consultants, making an income solely from my art practice.
Although much of my studio time over the years has been spent on making paintings on canvas, I have also made numerous editions of limited edition original prints, using many different print mediums. Most recently I have been exploring making small series of works on paper, using screen printed monotype processes with additional painted elements. I enjoy combining qualities of print processes with painting.
Over the years inspiration for my compositions has come from travel, and from places I have visited that are significant to me. I seek out vibrant colour, and where possible, exotic locations, that saturate the senses. I think my greatest interest has always been working with colour – endlessly playing with infinite combinations, creating a visual dynamic, communicating something of the places I have been to, and the feelings that I have had.
It has been a roller coaster making a full time career from my art, and I feel so fortunate that I have been able to do so. I hope, and dream, that I will be able to continue my career far into the future.