Shelley Burgoyne - winner of the Student and Public vote 2013

Shelley Burgoyne was delighted to be the AA2A artist of the year having been voted the clear winner of both the student and public vote for 2013. Shelley works as a fine artist, printmaker and teacher and has taken part in numerous projects, solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally. Her main areas of practice are printmaking, drawing, textiles and photography. Shelley has lectured for more than 30 years in Further and Higher Education. From her studio at her home in Todmorden, Shelley offers a series of contemporary printmaking and drawing courses.


Shelley completed a BA Honours Fine Art course at Stourbridge College of Art in 1979 and then MA Fine Art Printmaking at Bradford College in 1997.

Spending her childhood in North Wales, the rich local history and stories of her home town of Llangollen inspired much of her early work. She discovered an importance in making artwork connected to places and history. Creating work about places and linking to events and memories has continued throughout her arts practice. The sea and water life, female anatomy, creation and natural forms are all themes that have been explored over time.

My approach is organic and intuitive. I work across a range of drawing, printmaking and textiles media. It is my love of drawing and colour that provide the starting point and inspiration for my image making. I find all forms of printmaking intensely inspiring and creative. The framework of printmaking gives me a structure in which I can be experimental and free. I use intaglio and relief printing techniques to explore form and line, and to generate new life in the process. I often work with multiple plates and create images as I draw on these side by side. In the past two years I have moved towards combining print process with textile constructions. Water surface, movement and the tides feature strongly in my work as a metaphor for change and renewal. I am especially inspired by water and marine life and its intrinsic connection to our own internal anatomy. As an artist I feel a powerful link between health and creation.

Shelleys Project

I chose to apply for an AA2A placement at Gloucestershire College. This was the perfect geographical location for me. Earlier in 2012 I had begun looking at, wondering about and drawing Gloucester Cathedral. I was inspired by the vast space of the building and attracted to its quiet contemplation, its vast height and strength. I was drawn to the magical effects of the light that pours into the tall space. Later one evening I was walking along the River Severn and I made the connection between the tall strong reeds growing there and the structure of the cathedral building. I began to work on artworks connecting these two ideas.

I have known of the AA2A schemes for many years. As an art school lecturer I have recommended it to students. I felt it would offer me a lovely opportunity to work in a different role with students in this wonderful creative environment. As I was away from my home I structured the residency in blocks of time in order to immerse myself in my research. I spent two weeks in December 2012 and then a further two weeks in May 2013. In between these times I continued to develop the work at my studio in Todmorden. AA2A has given me the opportunity to follow new instincts and inspiration. It allowed me to dream and wonder, visit places important to my ideas and inspiration and to follow impulses.

The River Reed Project became an overarching title idea. I wanted to find expressions for my inspiration connecting the reeds and the cathedral. I have always been a great collector, photographing and drawing found objects that are broken or decaying.

I found the structure of the reeds so wonderful, delicate and strong, like living drawings. They reminded me of many things - images and ideas. I liked to think of the creatures living in amongst them. They support life! Over time they have been made into wonderful forms - nests, cradles, baskets, huts, shelters, boats. They have a rich history.

In December 2012 I began with a photographic documentation of the reeds being used experimentally as land art. I was excited by new art work possibilities. The Pick-Up Sticks photographs unveil my exuberance! I had visited RSPB Leighton Moss to photograph reeds. They donated two large bundles of reeds for the beginning of my project. These were a wonderful resource to have been given as collecting reeds can be tricky and boggy work. I love the creative cross-fertilisation here with Lancashire Reeds and River Severn Reeds. In December I followed this with making small experimental sculptures using the reeds and making drawings from these.

By the end of the residency in May I had created works which are part of a continuing creative process. They are beginnings. I have begun to develop a new series of work. The print series Seed Columns, Big Towers, Small Towers, Growth Tower are significant to the current development and stand tall as metaphors for personal change and growth.

I found the staff at Gloucestershire College very welcoming and supportive. Initially I used the 3D workshop space at Gloucester Campus and also worked alongside students in the Foundation studio. Later on I moved to the studio and printmaking workshop at the Forest of Dean Campus. The technicians were especially supportive in both campuses. The computer and copier print facilities were an excellent bonus throughout the placement. In December I used my Couchsurfing membership to stay with a very generous local resident and in May I camped for 2 weeks. Camping in the Forest of Dean is thoroughly recommended! I produced a lot of work and I feel that the short time frame made it all the more concentrated. I produced a new large sketchbook, a series of small sculpture maquettes, about 40 larger drawings and 20 prints. I also completed a series of new prints works for an exhibition.

Contact with students and Dotbiz

I really enjoyed the contact that I had with students. I love working with people and communicating through creative activity; its a big reason for being an artist. I led two workshops and gave two presentations about my ideas. Part of my work has involved using Collagraph Intaglio Printmaking. I demonstrated the printmaking techniques to the students, who gained more insight and understanding from directly using the media that I use. I love developing ideas through media experimentation in sketchbooks. There was a lot of interest in the sketchbook work I produced. I felt it was useful for the students to see my use of intuition in the creative process. Students were also able to see my image albums on the AA2A Dotbiz site as I worked. This was a good lively way to create links with the students and generate discussions.

The AA2A time also put me in a position where I had to be bold and decisive about what I needed and what I was required to do in the short time I had. I have struggled in the past to put myself out there and create interest in what I do. It is worth it and does pay off. So the 'top tips' I might pass on to students is: just get out and do it! There are plenty of people out there who are very interested and supportive! Just ask them!

How AA2A furthered Shelleys career

"My life has changed dramatically in the last two years and I am now working as a full time artist. AA2A gave me a structure and motivated me to organise my time; with goals when I was at the college and having projects to develop whilst back in my studio in Todmorden. I also used AA2A to develop a proposal as part of a GftA (Grants for the Arts) application. The AA2A scheme helped me achieve a valuable outcome in my work and I am currently applying for new residencies and working towards my next exhibition at South Square Gallery, Bradford.

The AA2A scheme has contributed to the development of my career. I felt connected! It gave me a strong framework to work within and I have gained from the new research time and produced new work for exhibition. This is now bringing out new opportunities and I am applying for other residencies and exhibitions. It has boosted my confidence and I would definitely recommend the AA2A scheme to other artists.

More about Shelley (including more image albums) available on our AA2A Dotbiz networking site.

Shelleys own website

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • 2013 South Square Gallery, Bradford
  • 2013 THREE PRINTMAKERS @ Water Street Contemporary Fine Art, Todmorden
  • 2007 TIDELINES, Lancaster University Gallery
  • 2006 Brantwood Ruskin House Gallery, Coniston, Cumbria
  • 2005 Longline Residency Exhibition, Lanternhouse, Cumbria
  • 2002 Workhouse Gallery, Chelsea, London
  • 2002 Dean Clough Gallery, Halifax
  • 2002 Sculpture Lounge, Holmfirth
  • 2002 Royal International Pavilion Gallery, North Wales
  • 2001 Workhouse Gallery, Chelsea, London
  • 2001 Bedford Gallery, Bedford
  • 2000 Hourglass Gallery, Hebden Bridge
Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2013 National Printfest Exhibitor, Cumbria

  • 2012 PRINT Featured Artist, Water Street Contemporary Fine Art, Todmorden

  • 2010 Contemporary Textiles Residency Project, Bankfield Museum Halifax

  • 2003-05 National Printfest Exhibitor, Cumbria and Printers Printmaker Award 2003

  • 2002 Wendy Levy Fine Art, Manchester

'Pick-up sticks', Land Art Experiment

'Small towers', Monoprint, 8 x 12 cm

'Catch Seed Column 1', Drypoint, Carborundum and Collagraph, 15 x 85 cm