June Hicks was born in Yorkshire and has lived in Cornwall since 1957. She is married to the farmer, Michael Hicks, whose paintings are also exhibited on this site. She studied art at Penzance School of Art with Bouverie Hoyton and John Tunnard and later learned to etch with Joan Whiteford.
In 1987 she opened her own etching workshop and small gallery at Trevescan, near Sennen. Her work is now in private collections and galleries in Cornwall and beyond. She exhibits regularly with St Ives Society of Artists in the Mariners and Crypt Galleries and is a founder member of Penwith Printmakers, which had its last ever group shows in 2013.
“From day one I was fascinated by the process of etching,” June writes. “When a drawing is transferred to a metal plate and becomes a print something hard to define happens. it is this elusive mutation which means that the excitement of lifting the blankets and pulling the damp paper off the inked plate never stops. You must respect technique constantly – carelessness can punish with disaster, acid can be fickle, aquatints unpredictable – but surprise bonus effects happen too. Subjects are all around: whatever has light and shade, form and texture invites translation into the hand-printed image.”
HOW I CAME TO ETCH
My girls’ high school in Yorkshire I suspect tolerated rather than encouraged art studies. Certainly career advice seemed to be fixed: if girls were “academic”, they should aim for university or teacher training college, if “practical”, head for nursing or the Halifax Building Society. So – though I loved such art tuition as we had – I went to Leeds University to read History and then pursued a year’s research for an M.A. at Queen’s University, Belfast. After that came teaching in Penzance, marriage to a Land’s End farmer and three children. Throughout I painted and drew when possible. When our three children left for university in turn I decided to take up art seriously. The School of Art in Penzance offered a variety of classes but I was advised to use drawing in the context of printmaking. I remember bringing home a small first etching, wobbly of line, and showing it off triumphantly. I was hooked. The whole process of plate preparation, drawing with needle, biting with acid, creating tone with aquatint and inking the image I still find fascinating. It is a demanding discipline which punishes carelessness though occasionally also throws up an unlooked for accidental effect which is just right! Recently I found by chance an etching studio in France. The smells, inks, tools and press were instantly familiar. It struck me that etchers from Rembrandt’s time would have felt as I did: I love having a small part in that centuries-old tradition of inky fingers. Subject matter is everywhere. The Cornwall I like best is not that of sea and sand, though I like boats and nets and the occasional wave breaking. My favourite haunts are leafy lanes, overgrown stiles and neglected barns though there is much also in our own garden to tempt the pencil.