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Artist Exclusives at Atelier - Hannah Forward

Hannah Forward has built quite a following as a printmaker since she got hooked on the medium in 2013. Graduating from Brighton University in 2006 with a degree in graphic design, Hannah worked as an editorial illustrator for newspapers and magazines before discovering her métier. Her linocut ‘Cassette Tapes’ was selected by Grayson Perry for the 2018 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and she was selected for a second time in 2019 with her print ‘Cameras’. 

Many of Hannah’s large-scale, multi-block linocut prints depict line-ups of nostalgic gadgets in indulgent detail. Alongside her cassette tapes and cameras, are vinyl records, Walkmans and synthesizers; their knobs and dials picked out in flashes of neon and metallic.

But, alongside, Hannah takes refuge in quieter, more diminutive work: A series of small, precious paintings, with many of the details skipped over. Like postcards from a dream, they leave it for the viewer's imagination to finish the story. 

We are delighted to have an exclusive collection of these paintings available for sale at Atelier, and wanted to find out more about this aspect of Hannah's work. 

You are best known for your print work. When did you start painting? 

I started painting about five years ago, purely for enjoyment. The kind of printmaking I do involves quite a lot of planning and an exacting technique, which I love, but doesn’t allow for much spontaneity during the actual process of printing. Painting is so different, and feeling free to make marks and mix colours according to what feels right in the moment is an important exercise I think, as well as being addictively fun!

Tell us about the landscapes in your paintings. Have you travelled to all of these places?

Mostly not. I wish I could travel as much as my work suggests I do! This is where the internet really comes in handy, I can explore anywhere I want to virtually, I don’t necessarily need to physically travel to a place. 

I always start with a photograph, either one that I’ve taken myself or one I’ve found. I do a lot of hunting on Instagram for images that I think could form a great basis for a painting. Usually, they’ll be taken by amateurs, who I then message for permission to interpret their photograph. I try to heighten the particular feeling or emotion I get from the photograph and change elements, usually simplifying shapes and changing colours according to what mood I want to get across. 

I want to convey a kind of cinematic dreaminess in my painting work. A nostalgic idea of place rather than the physical reality of it. So actually visiting a place in person doesn’t feel so necessary.  

Many of your prints are large in scale, but your paintings are for the most part very small. Why is that?

I think again it’s the photographic inspiration. If a photograph can get across so much to me and be so small, why can’t a painting? The intimacy of the small in scale has always spoken to me a lot more than the huge does. When it comes to linocut, it’s fun for me to go big because you just don’t see many massive linocuts, especially if they’re colourful, multi-block prints. I like pushing the medium and being extreme with it with my larger work, making people wonder how anyone sane would ever have the patience to create something in that way!



Which process do you prefer? Printmaking or painting?

I love both! I honestly cannot choose between them. I love how different they are to each other, but also how one technique so often inspires the other. I love how printmaking is the perfect way for me to explore colour and shape and composition and is more ‘ideas’ based. With painting, I use colour to explore mood and atmosphere more, and my love of photography, travel and film. 

I swing back and forth between getting really excited and inspired by print, focusing mainly on that for a few months, then swinging back to painting and making plans for ten new pieces.

At the moment I do see myself primarily as a printmaker, as that’s what I’m best known for and what I spend most of my time doing, but who knows where things will lead. I’ve been so amazed by the attention and support my little paintings have received by galleries like Atelier. It’s an important boost and tells me to stick at it, which I plan to do!

Come and see Hannah's paintings for yourself in our arches at Atelier Beside the Sea, or click on each painting to view the details.