Cath Bristow Prints

There and Back

I am honoured to be submitting a little piece about my printmaking practice for I print at Night.

My name is Cath of Cath Bristow Prints – I’m a Brighton based printmaker and participatory artist, using my printmaking practice to work in community engagement and outreach, facilitating printmaking workshops across the South East with young people and adults within different community settings. Supporting the different needs, abilities and emotions within group workshops is both mentally and physically exhausting and to balance this my own practice gives back to me and helps to refresh my energy.

Often working with a group will spark an idea that I might take forward into my own work and sometimes a technique that I have developed within my own work I will take into my community practice, so the two go hand in hand.

Talismans for the New World

During lockdown I found it really difficult to focus, I moved a small screen print set up from my workspace back to my home, a junior sized pool table became my new work station! I started working with really simple images using positive and negative, whilst everything was unfolding, and news was changing, and our life patterns were shifting I started to think of these little shapes as amulets, or lucky charms. I called the series “Talismans for the New world” the idea being what tangible or intangible items would I take with me on the journey through lockdown to the other side. They are paired down thoughts, mixed emotions, everyone’s experiences and situations are different so perhaps others will read their own meaning into these prints.

All of the series are A6 size, they are all screen prints using cut paper stencil which is my preferred way of working, I like the limitations of cut paper and also the spontaneity that you can work with. I love overprinting colours. Although I never set out to combine these images, I discovered that I could overprint two images and make a new meaning so, for example, I created a grounded bird for one image and called it “waiting to fly” but when I combined it with the house image it took on a whole new meaning and became the double edge title “couped up / set free.” The journey’s not over yet and I have a few more to add to the series but these simple images became very meaningful to me and powerful in their bold, raw simplicity.

Although I’ve been working in this simple, flat graphic style for the last couple of months here are a few examples of my other prints before this time, if we can remember a time before all of this.

Screen Prints

I mainly work in screen print, largely using cut paper stencil or collagraph largely using cut cardboard, I’ve obviously got a cut paper thing going. I also prefer cutting just with scissors if possible, I like the automatic limitation that this adds to my work.


In case you don’t know, collagraph is a printing plate that you make from found materials. The materials are stuck down onto heavy board, I use mount board, cardboard and textured paper. The plate is then varnished to make it waterproof. I ink my plates using two processes, intaglio process for incised lines, that is, rubbing etching ink into the cut lines, and I also roll ink up over the top of the block. It’s experimental so you can never quite predict what it will come out like but that’s the excitement of it .

All my prints have been loosely based around my encounters with nature in an urban context. I live in a basement flat and stare up at rooftops and chimneys, seagulls drifting overhead and the constant ness of these images always crop up within my prints. On my walk from home to work, passing trees in pavements, flowers growing out of walls, birds nesting on rooftops, sitting on wire, foxes caught in lamplight, nature in cities carries on regardless of what’s thrown at it.

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