Sally Tyrie: Photography and Print
Portsmouth artist Sally Tyrie mixes photography with printmaking. She joined Fibre Arts Take Two to share her love of photography, printmaking, and teaching.
Sally Tyrie’s Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.
Sally Tyrie is a fine artist who combines her two great loves of photography and printmaking. She is inspired by the landscapes of the United Kingdom, natural history and time and transition.
It is important to Sally that visual and historical research underpin and inform her body of work, believing the investigative journey is as much a part of the work as the end result.
Working from her studio in Portsmouth, England, Sally’s work can be found in private and public collections in the UK and beyond and has been exhibited across the UK and in Japan and France.
She is a much loved international tutor, best known for her sublime painterly effect in her artwork. Sally joined Fibre Arts Take Two to share her love of photography, printmaking, and teaching.
Recently, Sally was lucky enough to spend some time in Melbourne, “Australia was absolutely wonderful,” she says, “I actually ended up being there for about two and a half weeks partly teaching, partly visiting Melbourne, just meeting such wonderful people. That was the first time I’d actually spent any time in Melbourne actually. We stayed in the Fitzroy area and just fell in love with it. I could see myself there.”
Melbourne’s culture won Sally over very quickly, “I recommend people who go to Australia visit Melbourne,” she says, “I think it’s I think it was partly because Fitzroy especially felt like home. We live in a little cultural hub here; Portsmouth is a really mixed town. You’ve got lots of extremes in some way with regard to housing and people’s backgrounds. I wouldn’t ever want to live somewhere that’s too isolated or too away from society, like in the midst of people and in their lives. So I like Fitzroy from that point of view. And then obviously great coffee shops!”
Sally comes from a line of photographers, so it is no surprise her art has a strongly photographic bent, “My dad was an amazing photographer,” says Sally, “and my mum. I’ve always held the camera in my hand, and when I did my BA in Fine Art at Nottingham, I did a lot of darkroom photography and really loved it. The photography then has just carried on different cameras. Now I’ve got a digital SLR camera, which I love. I still love 35-millimetre cameras but don’t have any ability to develop the film myself.”
Her family enjoyed visuals in some more inventive ways as well, “From an early age, would sit there, watch silly films and listen to Simon and Garfunkel music,” she says, “ that’d be the highlight of our week or our evening. So that kind of visual diary, that visual narrative, that’s been embedded in my background.”
Sally still loves the practicality and versatility of photography, “It’s having something in your hand to collect and take back with you,” she says, “I like the way that you can use the camera almost like a kind of artsy tool, underexposure, overexposure depth of field, using the camera to find images that you can’t see with your own eyes, as well. It’s not always that the camera’s the true picture of what you’re seeing; sometimes, it can distort the picture.”
Photography may have been a mainstay all of Sally’s life, but printmaking took a little longer to discover, “I started off doing painting,” Sally says, “and my tutors were saying you need to do printmaking, so I listened to that. And I did more printmaking, and since then, it’s been mainly printmaking with photography embedded in it. Sometimes photography is a starting point and a collection of ideas and image manipulation. At other times, I bring photography actually physically into the work. It could be a kind of photo etching process or even combining photography and printmaking together.”
Sally has enjoyed collaborative work throughout her career. Of collaborating, she says, “It’s really important for me as an artist to continually move forward. When you meet other artists and you work with other artists, you see things through their eyes. I would definitely recommend it.
I don’t think there’s an awful lot of funding out there to go and collaborate with an artist. But if there’s an opportunity to do it, whether it’s an under-the-radar collaboration or an official collaboration as a residency, I definitely would recommend it. I think if you work in your own little vacuum, you can move forward. There are artists who do that, but it doesn’t work for me. So the collaborations have really enriched my work and enriched what I do and how I see things.”
Meaning: art vs life
Fibre Arts Take Two played a section of Sally’s showreel, which had a point that she wished to clarify, “When I say everything I do has a meaning,” Sally says, “I think my husband would disagree with that a little bit. I should stress that I’m talking about my work there. Because I do sometimes go into a room and forget what I went in for and then have to go back again. I just want to stress it is about my work. There’s a lot of my life that I don’t know what I’m doing!”
Sally is a highly sought-after teacher, a role that she relishes, “The best thing about being a teacher,” she says, “is that sense of achievement, that sense of fulfilment, especially when people come back to you and say, ‘Oh, thank you so much for introducing me to that, I haven’t done that before.’”
Sally has an example of a student who she was critiquing during a live workshop, “We were saying, ‘You have an amazing body of work here, you can make a book piece, you can make a series of 2D pieces’. And this particular student was like, ‘I don’t ever resolve anything. I’m happy to have loads of piles. I’ve got loads of piles of work back at home. And we were like, ‘Oh, this is an amazing body of work. This could be an exhibition. And I was so pleased in the end that she did take them somewhere. And she emailed me afterwards and said how grateful she was that I bullied her into resolving it because the first time, she’s actually done it, and she felt pleased with her work.”
About the artist
Sally Tyrie works predominantly with printmaking, mixed media and photography, often preferring to select surfaces and media that connect with the theme and context. Method and meaning are often interconnected.
Approaches often involve deconstructing and assembling work using collage methods, in particular, juxtaposing multilayered Prints and drawings with machine or hand stitch to examine, reinterpret and reimagine.
Sally tends to be drawn more to techniques that allow ‘chance’ and ‘accident’. For instance, multilayered monoprint. She is particularly interested in techniques that enable her to adopt a more painterly and expressive approach.
While starting points to Sally’s work can vary, a recurring interest is in imagery with a sense of the uncanny. Also, ways to convey a narrative around absence, presence and transience. She is especially drawn to subjects with historical and environmental interests.
Sally works from her home garden studio in Portsmouth, Hampshire.