Anja Percival

About The Artist

Anja Percival – B: 1971

Artist’s Statement

“In 1998 I left my job in science and began a fresh career at art college. For me, the study of nature became the bridge between my scientific and artistic careers. Both science and art examine the intricacies of nature, the difference between them lying in the motive and intentions behind the study. Scientific research is searching for explanations – to make the ‘how’ and ‘why’ more understandable. Art can hold many different fascinations with nature, but in my case I used it to reflect the aesthetic qualities in the world around us. I looked at the results of nature’s processes, instead of looking at the origins.

My early work utilised motifs from nature to create pieces of work that emulate an appreciation of the rich variation in pattern, form, texture and colour that surrounds me. Subsequent work made more obvious references to nature’s sublime quality… I wanted my work to touch on the aspect of nature that can not be explained by our laws and science. My scientific background had an effect on my artwork in other ways too: I frequently mixed scales from micro and macro climates, to result in somewhat ambiguous images, possessing alternative identities. Previous microscope work in the lab presented views that were often abstract, lacking identity… tiny details of the specimen often revealing whole new ‘landscapes’ under the lens.

My working process is still oddly reminiscent of my lab days, often beginning with writing; ideas, rough methods and hopeful outcomes, all with quite a methodical approach. And I will always enjoy the physical processes of printmaking, as I enjoyed manual work in the research lab – the experimentation, and getting my hands dirty. The one important contrast to my former career is that I can now enjoy the creative freedom to make my own decisions and take control over my own work. The results are individual, personal … how I see and experience our surroundings.

I am a printmaker, and the majority of my work combines collagraph and etching techniques to build up multilayered imagery with rich, textural surfaces. My prints utilise both representational and abstract elements, to produce images that portray my experience of the landscape.
I am fascinated by the different atmospheres that light creates in both our rural and urban environments.

During my recent stay in Denmark, I was hugely inspired by the new foreign surroundings. My work progressed away from using the natural landscapes of the Cornish coastline, to be instead influenced by the more ‘urban’ scenery within which I lived. After a relocation back to Durham at the end of 2009, I’m still very interested in depicting urban spaces that are infiltrated by different qualities of light. I’m now incorporating locations closer to home, and my most recent work draws on impressions from Durham Cathedral.

My compositions aim to combine different moods of light, with contrasting space and surface qualities. I enjoy working with a variety of etching techniques, including aquatint, ‘soft’ ground, ‘white’ ground and burnishing, which result in subtle tonal differences within my imagery. I rarely start with line, but instead focus on the highlights within an image, and thus create the composition by blocking out the areas which will remain light, instead of building up the image with dark line and shading.

My work is a personal portrait of our landscape; it is influenced by how I see the world around me, drawing upon my favourite elements from our rich visual existence.

In February, 2010, Ms. Percival was chosen as the Printmaker of the Year at Printfest.


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