30 August 2002

ARTISTSBIRDWORLD

ARURAL childhood on a Glos smallholding and a chicken called Henrietta have provided the inspiration for many of the illustrations and etchings created by artist Araminta Page.

Ducks, geese and waterfowl have now been added to the menagerie and, although Minty no longer lives at the family home, she still visits each morning.

She explains: "I go and take photographs of the birds so Ive got a still subject to work from. They all have their own characters and pecking order. Theres bossy ones and shy ones and its these amusing peculiarities that I like to try and capture in my work."

Minty is convinced that it is her mothers enthusiasm for "haughty hens and superior cockerels" that has given her a lifelong interest in chickens.

"I think a lot of people have an affection for chickens and ducks, they see them as quite amusing creatures and thats why I put little captions underneath my pictures.

"I try and give the birds good facial expressions – I think thats the essence of any animal really. Once Ive got the facial expression I can usually come up with some sort of phrase that is appropriate. People pick up on that and it hopefully adds to the attraction of the work."

Once Minty has created a sketch from the photograph and emphasised its particular features she transfers it on to sheet aluminium. The originals are printed off with sepia etching ink and then each print is individually tinted to give fatness and extra detail to beaks, feet and feathers. About 35 prints are taken from one sketch.

"The process is called dry point etching. I like the way you can get something quite instant that can look quite good. Of course theyve all got to be hand painted, so its not quite that instant," Minty laughs.

At present much of her work is sold through 10 galleries across the West Midlands, but she is looking to move into galleries in Oxford, Bristol and the outskirts of London.

"This year Im going to do the Autumn Show at the Three Counties and next year I aim to do the Royal Welsh Show at Builth Wells. Id also like to try and get private exhibitions through galleries."

Minty has also applied for a Princes Trust loan. "I would like to be able to sell copies of the original hand-painted prints. These can be done at a commercial printers. I would still sell my individual prints from the etching, but I would be able to meet another market – there would be more of a price range. Im hoping to get a catalogue printed too, which would save me driving to all the galleries.

"My pictures tell a story to some extent. The Dorking Cockerel, plump and proud of it, conjures up a very amusing image. I think the humour in my work is very important." Liz Boynton

Mintys work can be seen on her web-site:

www.craft-e-chickens.co.uk