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‘Great idea during lockdown’: Lino-cutting sessions turns Richmond Road neighbours into creatives



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Gordon Chesterman at his Richmond Road home with his lino-cutting equipment. Picture: Keith Heppell
Gordon Chesterman at his Richmond Road home with his lino-cutting equipment. Picture: Keith Heppell

A group of neighbours on Richmond Road has joined together for a lino-cutting and printing session, organised by Gordon Chesterman as part of his ‘coping with lockdown’ series.

Gordon, who last year embellished his parking post with two bird feeders, a clock and a thermometer, is a proctor at the University of Cambridge.

“This socially-distanced Zoom-based course is derived from an in-person event I used to run before the lockdown for Cambridge University students,” he says, “for their relaxation, artistic endeavours and a bit of laughter over a bottle or three of wine!”

Initially, Gordon – whose own prints are available via the Curwen Print Study Centre, a registered charity – delivered sets of tools and pieces of lino to the neighbours.

“We then had a Zoom meeting for me to show ideas, talk about designs and how to cut lino.

“They then cut their blocks in the safety of their own home over the next few days and popped the finished block though my letterbox. We then had another Zoom meeting with the printing press in action and they all saw their block being printed to loud gasps of amazement and wonder!

“I then dropped the printed copies back to them.”

Fellow Richmond Road resident Britta Kleinsorge said: “My daughter Gemma, aged 7, and I took part in Gordon’s lino-cutting course and really enjoyed it.

“Gemma didn’t really know what it was initially, but then was very enthusiastic and got really excited when she actually saw her block being printed onto cards via Zoom.”

Heidi Mulvery commented: “I heard about Gordon’s course from our Richmond Road community email which has been even more appreciated during lockdown, particularly by people self-isolating. Gordon’s introduction to lino-cutting was fantastic: he covered a huge amount in a short time and I was amazed by the variety of images, many of them his own, including a really witty one of his cat Bella peering round a corner. Also, it was lovely meeting new people and catching up with some I’ve not seen in ages.

“I dithered for days about what I would try. Over the weekend I was sitting at the kitchen table, guiltily looking at the equipment Gordon had loaned and still no inspiration. I was reading the paper about the [President Biden] inauguration; it was so nice to read something positive for a change. And then I saw a beautiful photo, in profile, of Amanda Gorman, whose recitation of ‘The Hill We Climb’ was so powerful and hopeful.

“I suddenly thought how much I’d like to capture her image. So I used tracing paper to copy her outline and features, which I transferred onto the piece of lino Gordon had given us. The first cut was scary, but I practised on the folds of her clothes where any mistakes wouldn’t be so obvious. The work was completely absorbing and it’s lovely to have found a new creative pastime. Massive thanks to Gordon for sharing his skills with us.”

Cathy Hadridge also enjoyed the virtual art challenge: “I was invited to join the virtual lino cutting course by a friend, I have no previous experience in working with this medium and am not particularly artistic. My interest was more that my daughters had both sent me cards using this technique, and I was curious to attempt it as well, not competitively obviously! They too had acquired the skill over lockdown.

“The class was excellently led with humour and lots of time to ask questions. We were encouraged to email with any further issues we may need help with.

“Our finished lino cuts were printed on our second Zoom, in front of us, and then delivered to our homes in the form of cards.It was a very supportive and productive experience. I shall be sending my cards to my family over the next year! I also plan to continue to learn this new skill.”

“Many thanks Gordon for the good humour and brilliant idea to do this for locals,” said Anne Taylor, adding: “Maybe you would consider doing a botanical one for our local garden club?!”

Fellow Richmond Road resident Anne Rennie noted: “I enjoyed it immensely and have bought a small lino cutting and printing set to continue my new hobby. A great idea during lockdown because you can do it on your own with minimal equipment.”

“My husband watched my progress and has been inspired to do a course with Gordon next week.”

Indeed, Gordon is now organising a second session for friends of the neighbours.

“Big thanks to Richmond Road Residents Association who helped me get this idea off the ground,” he says.



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