Artwork featuring Wenlock Edge is being displayed in homes around the world thanks to a Shropshire printmaker.
Shelley Wingrove had always enjoyed art as a hobby but it wasn’t until the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 that she set up The Little Black Mare Studio.
The name was inspired by her rescue pony Maisie, who lives with Shelley, her husband and their two lurchers near Much Wenlock.
“My artwork has always been heavily influenced by nature and the world around me, and living in such a beautiful location certainly helps,” Shelley explains.
“When we returned to live in Shropshire a couple of years ago, we set up a studio so I’d have a dedicated space to create art in, and I took a printmaking qualification as well as learning more from the fabulous Jenny Gunning from Ironbridge Fine Arts.
“Setting up the website and officially launching Little Black Mare during the first lockdown gave me a really positive focus at a time which was so difficult for all of us – and I have been amazed by the fantastic responses to my artwork.
“My customers from all around the world send me pictures showing my artwork hanging up in their homes, which is incredible.
“Lots of the pieces celebrate Wenlock Edge and other gorgeous locations within Shropshire, as well as the wildlife found here, so it’s fantastic to think I have been able to bring a little of the county’s beauty to so many people.”
Shelley specialises in limited-edition hand-cut lino prints, collagraphs and etchings. The latter sees her gently ‘scratching’ a design on to a metal plate to be incised using acid before it’s inked and wiped by hand and then carefully printed on to high-quality dampened paper using archival inks.
Her lino prints start off as a sketch, then she painstakingly cuts the design into Japanese vinyl (which she prefers to traditional lino) and creates the print on her Gunning press.
“The actual cutting can take days, but seeing the design come to life is a joy. In the summer, the studio doors are open so I can hear the birdsong all around, while in the winter I’m usually listening to an audio book and the crackle of my wood-burner.”
When making a collagraph, Shelley will create a sensory ‘collage’ on the plate before sealing it and leaving it to dry. This is a lengthy printing process which sees ink being carefully ‘pushed’ into the texture created by the collage.
She adds: “I’ve always been so passionate about art and nature, and being able to combine the two and share my creations across Shropshire and beyond has been phenomenal.”