Rebecca Roscorla’s pictures combine relief printing, monotypes, screen print and collage to create multi-layered, exotically hued magical worlds. Her images marry abstract pattern with motifs such as isolated figures and fruit in bright greens, reds and yellows. The compositions are full of energy and texture, always with an element of the unknown about them; nudes are placed out of context on a decorative abstracted backdrop, making them all the more beguiling. Roscorla takes her curiosity and observations for a walk, using intuition and a playful state of mind to make decisions about the pathways she will decide to go down in order to make her pictures. She lives and works in London.
Lisa: You like to combine lots of different printmaking processes and work in an intuitive way. How much do you know about what you might create in a session the moment you walk through the studio door?
Rebecca: I arrive at the studio with a bag of images to play with; sketches, collages and drawings that I’ve made. Sometimes I’m simply attempting to recreate one of those images in print. Often I begin with no preconceived notion of what to do; but even those are not as spontaneous as they appear. I’ve been developing my practice over a long period of time. I sketch and play around with ideas everyday (although not for long). Themes and motifs reoccur and develop. I’ve no idea what’ll happen next but I’m well-rehearsed!
Lisa: Do you think of your images as having any kind of narrative?
Rebecca: Well, I thought there was no narrative but recently changed my mind. I was walking through London and saw a great looking stained glass window. Later I sat down to draw it from memory only to realise it was a scene I’d already printed supposedly off the cuff. The window depicted Adam and Eve. Although my print (Eve and Eve, after the window) is a more abstract version aside from the two figures, the basic forms and composition are the same. So now I think it’s all narrative, I just don’t know necessarily what that narrative is.
Lisa: Can you talk us through the main processes that you like to work with and what qualities you like most about them?
Lisa: Your monotypes of figures as seen on your Instagram look like collages, they are very full of energy and movement (I’m looking at the reclining figure monotypes) Can you tell us exactly how you make these?
Rebecca: I use a thin piece of plastic as a plate. In the case of the reclining figures it was an old portfolio folder. I then cut up and tear various shapes in paper and plastic, ink them up, arranging them on the plate as I go; then print. The reclining figure monotypes were a complete surprise. I was shocked they came out.
Lisa: How do you select the colours that you are going to work with?
Rebecca: I struggle with purple, blue, black, grey and brown. They are off the menu! With the very occasional exception. If you see black, you’re actually looking at dark green. The colours then often dictate the image. I’m struggling to achieve colour harmony, that’s the game. You add a bit of red or whatever, it throws out the whole image, so then you try to balance it.
Lisa: Are there any particular inks/papers that you like to work with?
Rebecca: For my monotypes and lino cuts I like thin paper, the thinner the better. I’ve been working with a Japanese paper called ‘Hosho’ recently. It comes on a roll, picks up the ink well and is surprising strong for something so fine. I use Caligo Safe wash relief inks.
Lisa: What or who influences your work and where do you find inspiration?
Rebecca: It’s hard to unpick! I think anything and everything influences you really. I’ve spent a lot of time at the British Museum. I Love it there. ‘Lost Magical Worlds’ (I got that phrase from an Eduardo Paolozzi exhibition) that’s a great description for everything at the BM. Magical ancient worlds, when art was imbued with such significance and meaning. Not that I’m making the same lofty claims for my work! But I certainly nick ideas from the displays. Also ‘Elle Decoration’. I subscribed over a year ago to try and change my focus. It’s somehow easier thinking of your work as a small part of a greater interior; rather than facing a blank page. It makes you less precious about the work.
Lisa: How often do you find time to make work during a typical week?
Rebecca: It varies. I print two days a week – by days I mean half days. It’s an expensive habit. Then I collage and work stuff out late at night or early in the morning. When the mind’s a little tired and will run less interference. You make strange and interesting decisions at anti-social hours. You’re less inhibited.
Lisa: What are you working on at the moment and what will you be working on next?
Rebecca: That’s a tough question, I guess I’m just working. I need a break from my collaged monotypes, boredom is starting to creep in. I’ll play with lino and screen print for a while instead. My late night collages are getting stranger so this may indicate some strange prints to come. We will see.