Artist Interview: Cally Conway

I'm a curious type; I like to know what informs an artist. Who or what do they look to for inspiration? How do they work? Each month I will be asking an artist I admire a few questions, this month is Cally Conway.

Callieach Bheara Print By Cally Conway

Callieach Bheara Print By Cally Conway

Cally, many of your prints are made using a linocut process, what is it about this process that you love?

With linocuts, I love how egalitarian they are. You don’t need fancy equipment or a big studio, you can get hold of fairly cheap tools and just carve away, and then print it all by hand with the back of a spoon if you want! That’s how I started. I also love the physical process of carving an image, I find it really meditative. 

The intricacy of your prints is staggering, how long does it take to go from an idea to a finished print?

Sometimes it can take me an age from starting an image to finishing. It really does depend on what I’m doing, the size of it, intricacy etc. And the fact that I teach means I can’t work on a piece continually every day. It can be anything from a few days to weeks or months even. I seem to need to do a lot of thinking at every stage too. I’ve realised recently just how I work, and I reckon I’m quite slow...! 

Nature and folklore are your biggest sources of inspiration, what is it about recording nature that appeals to you and how do you use folklore in your work?

For me, nature is not only beautiful and essential, but it continually inspires and sustains me. Being in nature makes me feel that everything is alright with the world, even if it’s not. And I think too many of us have lost touch with that. So I like to try and capture its beauty if I can, and maybe distill some of that. With my interest in folklore, sometimes it’s not that obvious, but I love finding out stories and meanings associated with plants or animals. When I’m creating a print I will research any folklore associated with what I want to include so that there might be a connection between the different elements. 

Fallow Deer Print By Cally Conway

Fallow Deer Print By Cally Conway

Hare Print By Cally Conway

Hare Print By Cally Conway

Fox Print By Cally Conway

Fox Print By Cally Conway

Mouse Print By Cally Conway

Mouse Print By Cally Conway

You are based in London and yet your work is mostly nature inspired, where do you go to source inspiration for a new piece or series of work?

Ah yes, living in London you could say it would be hard to find any aspect of nature to work from, but in truth there’s actually lots in London if you know where to find it! I spend most of my time at Kew Gardens and Hampstead Heath. I’m lucky enough to live really near Hampstead Heath and just a short train ride from Kew. Since becoming a member of Kew Gardens a few years back I can honestly say it feels like a second home. 

Tell me about your studio or creative space.

My ‘studio’ is actually a small rectangular space off my front room, where I’ve managed to fit a work table, inking table, and printing press. No idea how I managed to squash it all in. I’d love to have more space but it just about works as a mini studio. It has a large window great for light, and for watching the local foxes and birds. And it also has the added bonus of being the place my cat races in from outside- usually with muddy paws and straight onto any print I’ve left laying around!  

Wildflowers by Cally Conway

Wildflowers by Cally Conway

Welsh Poppies by Cally Conway

Welsh Poppies by Cally Conway

What artists (living or dead) inspire you?

There are tons of artists I admire so I’ll mention some of my long time favourites: I’m fascinated by Louise Bourgeois’ work, I began experimenting with printmaking after discovering her work at art college. Marthe Armitage creates the most wonderful linocut repeat prints for wallpaper and Agnes Miller Parker is a long time favourite for her exquisite wood engravings. 

I love learning random facts about people, tell me three things about yourself.

  • I’m a bit small, probably 5ft (I never measure myself, maybe I should?) every item of clothing is always too long...!
  •  My cat Arwen is named after the beautiful elf in The Lord of the Rings, her middle name is Monkey (do other people give their cats middle names?!)
  • I’m a proper insomniac which is really frustrating. Once I read an Alan Moore biography (called ‘Storyteller’) in two weeks just in the hours I couldn’t sleep. It became my ‘not sleeping’ book (great book if you love the writer Alan Moore!).

Finally, where can people follow your work online?

I have a website; callyconwayprints.com (which I must get better at updating) to view my prints. 
@callyconwayprints on Instagram
@callyconway on Twitter
@callyconwayprints on Facebook
And my prints are for sale on: Made By Hand Online and Folksy

Thank you to Cally for taking part in my artist interview series. I just love Cally's intricately detailed prints of botanicals and find her animal pieces enchanting. To purchase a print from Cally please take a look at her store on Folksy and Made By Hand Online and be sure to follow her creative endeavours on social media using the links above. 

If you'd like to take part in my artist interviews series then please do get in touch at claireleanneleach@gmail.com. 

If you enjoyed reading then please click the heart at the bottom, share or better still leave me a comment, I love reading them. ❤️

The End Of The Road

We waved goodbye to Pokhara and made our way back to Kathmandu by bus. The journey was long but I made sure to take notice of the landscape as we passed. As we left the verdant green countryside behind the air became heavier, dustier and the roads were clogged with slow moving traffic. We had a couple of days to kill until our flight on July 22nd which we spent walking between each of the many souvenir shops buying a myriad of colourful felted coasters, vegan soaps, rucksacks made of hemp and soft scarves. Kathmandu was just as vibrant as it had been when we first arrived a few weeks ago, it was so strange to think that home was just a short couple of days away.

A Chipmunk In The Garden Of Dreams, Nepal

A Chipmunk In The Garden Of Dreams, Nepal

Lillies In The Garden Of Dreams In Kathmandu, Nepal

Lillies In The Garden Of Dreams In Kathmandu, Nepal

We ate our last helping of Nepalese fired momo's at a local restaurant and treated ourselves to our 'last supper' at Fire and Ice, the amazing pizzeria we had found when we first arrived. Our last activity of travelling was a couple of hours spent at the Garden of Dreams; a pristine garden filled with lily-ponds, fountains and mischievous chipmunks.

An Urn In The Garden Of Dreams In Kathmandu, Nepal

An Urn In The Garden Of Dreams In Kathmandu, Nepal

Chipmunk In The Garden Of Dreams In Kathmandu, Nepal

Chipmunk In The Garden Of Dreams In Kathmandu, Nepal

Our clothes were worn, frayed and stained. Our hair long and unruly, mine hadn't been cut in all the time we'd been away while Craig had only had two haircuts in 11 months and would be returning home with a beard. We'd started our journey in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil after a huge 12 hour delay not knowing where we'd be travelling to or how. We made up the trip as we went and learned the hard way how winging it can cause unforeseen problems but also how exciting an unplanned itinerary made our adventure. Over just under 11 months we'd travelled to 21 countries (22 if you count our 12 hour delay at a hotel in Germany) and experienced all the highs and all the lows that are associated with long term travel.

Not every moment will be one that we'll add to the photo album; being eaten alive by mosquitos and bed bugs, the sleepless nights in a hostel with somebody snoring in the bed next door, the instant noodle dinners to save money and the 36 hour coach ride from the tip of Argentina to Chile. But alongside those moments were seeing Machu Picchu and finishing the most challenging trek of our lives in Peru, finally travelling India by train and having a week of adventures in New York City with family. 

We left our hotel in Kathmandu at 6am and arrived in London at 5pm, both our mums ran towards us as we walked through the arrivals gate. As we got in the car to drive home to Hampshire it felt almost like we'd never left, so quickly does your life get 'back to normal' that the previous months felt like a hazy blur. When we went backpacking for the first time in 2011 for eight months we always knew that we'd go again. We had to. When you're a traveller you'll never 'get it out of your system'. Even with the low moments you always want to see and experience more. As I write this, my final backpacking post we've been home for nearly six months, and although we have other goals in mind like owning our first home together our travelling days are certainly not behind us. We may not travel in the same way again, on one long backpacking trip but we will always want to put adventure and exploration at the centre of our lives because it is what makes us who we are. 

One Of The Last Photographs Of Us From Our Trip In Kathmandu, Nepal

One Of The Last Photographs Of Us From Our Trip In Kathmandu, Nepal

So, now we've reached the 'end of the road' I just want to say a big thank you to those that have followed along with our adventure. That very first post I wrote back in September 2016 while sitting in our Rio de Janeiro apartment sure feels like a lifetime ago. If you've been reading since then, have left me a comment or pressed that little red heart then thank you so much, I'm sending you so much love. 

If you enjoyed reading then please click the heart at the bottom, share or better still leave me a comment, I love reading them. ❤️

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