We are so happy to have Briony back with us, and while she won’t be here in person, at least her artwork will be making a return to Froggwell this year. She has been a very busy bee these past years since leaving the island. I will let her tell you all about the various projects she has been working on herself, but first let me say that I have been impressed with her drive, talent, and dedication ever since I met her while she was just about to graduate from high school.
Although I no longer live on Whidbey Island, I live a remarkably island-like life in the green hills of Putney, Vermont. Year-round I work on my own art and illustration work. From September to June I teach at The Putney School, The River Gallery School and local community colleges and in the summer I work as both a makeshift farmer at a local family-run farm and as a gardener in a handful of Southern Vermont’s beautiful gardens.
This last year I’ve had the opportunity to dive into a few different projects that have brought me back into the world of illustration. In the spring of 2013 I had a chance meeting with a group of woodworkers. When they heard that I was both the daughter of a woodworker (shoutout to Buffy Cribbs) and created copperplate etchings they asked me to join them in creating “The Anarchist’s Design Book”. The book, published by Lost Art Press in March of 2016, is an exploration of 18th century vernacular furniture. As explained on the Lost Art Press website, the “book explores 11 of these forms – a bed, dining tables, chairs, chests, desks, shelving – and offers a deep exploration into the two contraction techniques used to make these pieces that have been forgotten, neglected or rejected.” On my end of things, I got the chance to work completely different project than I was accustomed to and learn several new techniques. Not only was I illustrating man-made objects, but I also had the chance to lean the process of PurEtch, a nontoxic and biodegradable processes of etching copper plates with a photosensitive film resist. The project turned out to be a success and I had a great time working with this group of hard working individuals. To watch a video on how I made the photosensitive copper etchings for the book visit the Lost Art Press blog.
For a month this spring I also had the experience of delving into the world of coloring books. Algonquin, the publisher of Wicked Plants (Written by Amy Stewart and published in 2009) asked me if I would recreate the original illustrations as pen & ink drawings to be used in a coloring book. I agreed and spent the next month drawing one or two illustrations per day. The book will be coming out on July 26th. Wicked Plants Coloring Books can be pre-ordered through Amazon or through your local book store.
I never thought I would be a teacher…let alone a high school teacher. And yet, here I am and I love it. I have the privilege of teaching printmaking and book arts at the Putney School , “An independent, coeducational boarding and day high school, with a strong program in the arts, music, [and] land use…” The school is full of bright, colorful students who want to make a difference in the world. I’ve learned a lot from the experience and have found that teenagers are not nearly as terrifying as I once thought they were. In addition to the Putney School, I teach book arts classes at the River Gallery School, a small art school that provides classes and workshops to students of all ages, the Community College of Vermont and Smith College.
Farming and Gardening –
Another unexpected joy that has come into my life is gardening. The Vermont winter months are good for studio time and teaching but in the summer, when the the landscape explodes into beautiful scenes and exquisite plants, it’s hard to stay inside. The last two years in Vermont I have spent my summers working at the Bunker Farm a family run farm which produces naturally raised meats, annuals, perennials, and maple syrup. The farm is a second home to me and along with helping to run the farm stand, I transplant annuals and perennials, can maple syrup and help process meat.
Gardening helps fill out my time and has helped make me a more durable, tough “Vermonter”. (Out here you have to live in a place several generations become “of” the place. However, that’s okay since I am proud to always be an “Islander”). My gardening adventures take me to some beautiful places and give me a chance to be around some incredible botanical specimens.
I am excited to be offering a handful of hand-tinted etchings at this year’s Froggwell Binnale. I’ll be exhibiting the usual monsterous/beautiful animal prints along with a newer selection of botanical prints. Here’s a sneak preview of a few pieces that will be included in this year’s show.
Apologies for the extra long post, but I think it was worth it, to catch up with all of Briony’s considerable accomplishments.
The Froggwell Biennale
Friday-Saturday-Sunday 10 AM to 5PM
August 5th, 6th, & 7th.
At the Legendary Froggwell Garden
5508 Double Bluff Road