School of Art
Chris Penn: Prints: 1960-200422 March – 4 June 2010
Chris Penn has been making prints for over 40 years. Born at Battle, Sussex in 1943 she attended Central School of Art (1961-64), where she was taught relief printmaking techniques by Gertrude Hermes and Roderic Barrett, and the Slade School of Art, London (1977-78). She was trained as a trade-engraver at the Sir John Cass School where she learned the painstaking technique of copper-plate engraving. She has been a part-time lecturer and artist in residence in art schools and universities throughout her career.
Penn believes that engaging with the human form is central to her work. "Every emotion, political belief, religious ideal‚" she explains. "can be expressed most poignantly using the human form as a scaffold, and if looked at carefully much more can be communicated than by the written word."
Her attraction to and ability in engraving on copper, now a rare skill, she believes results in work that is in contrast to what she describes as "split second throwaway images." The painstaking nature of her engraved work and the work of the artists she admires - Albrecht Dürer in particular - will repay a viewer's careful and focused gaze. In her work she is seeking to produce something that "makes the onlooker ask the questions rather than accept the facts."
On the other hand her linocuts are manifestations of the same serious intent but expressed in less studied, sometimes positively exuberant technique. Playful, patterned and mostly monochrome, they seem to arise from a directness of thought and action rare in relief printmaking, a medium so often suffocated by the niceties of good craft.
Chris Penn's work is in public collections in the UK and USA including the Sainsbury Centre in the University of East Anglia and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The School of Art holds the largest public collection of her work purchased from and donated by the artist. She has had solo and group exhibitions in London and Stockholm including the ICA Gallery (London), the Royal Academy of Art and Gallery Graphic Huset (Stockholm). She now lives and works in Hexham, Northumberland.