Learning to see the spaces

Amanda Hillier – Illustrator and Printmaker

My second visit for Secret Severn Art Trail was to Amanda Hillier in Coalbrookdale. If you’ve been to previous trails you’ll recognise Amanda’s distinctive lino prints and some of the landscapes she’s inspired by. Much of her work mirrors the unique landscape of Coalbrookdale where industrial architecture and natural features sit side by side.

Seedpods against the backdrop of Coalbrookdale viaduct by Amanda Hillier

As well as gaining inspiration from Coalbrookdale, Amanda escapes to the seaside. She challenges herself to create quick sketches of structures and rock formations, perhaps imposing a time limit, or working in shades of just one colour. She uses her sketchbooks in the same way as I use my notebooks (and scraps of envelopes when I’m not organised). Thoughts, ideas and impulses are captured, before being distilled into the final piece.

My morning with Amanda was spent seeing the re-imagining of a fragment of seaweed collected from Aberdaron. Amanda explained how the pieces are created in reverse, and showed me the carving of the lino, as well as the process of printing. It’s a process that owes a lot to Japanese woodblock printing and uses many similar tools and techniques.

I felt quite different today, compared with my visit to Both in Stitches and I think it reflects difference in process. I’ve come away from this visit with a strong sense of how I want my finished poem to be. The rhythm of the poem is there – I want to mirror the feeling of the print roller and ink on paper, and I’ve got a strong theme. I’ve already written a very rough draft, and the essence of the poem is there. This is a contrast to my work earlier in the week, where I was seeing the preparation and groundwork for a long term creation. My notes for that visit are more measured, with threads of ideas gradually coming together.

Things I’ve learned, like being sure that the form I choose mirrors the meaning, are bearing true, and helping to guide what I write. I think writing about something that isn’t entirely driven by personal emotions or strong beliefs is tapping into a different set of skills, which is another level of development as a writer.  I can’t wait to see how the language and rhythms of the pieces will develop. I know I’ve already got two very different poems brewing

Amanda is running family friendly lino printing workshops as part of the Secret Severn Art Trail which you can book through this link ticketstelford.com/whats-on/festivals/

You can find out more about Amanda’s work as well as buying her beautiful prints on amandahillier.co.uk/and keep up to date with Secret Severn Art Trail here facebook.com/Secretsevern/



  1. Jo Clarke says:

    Love your writing about process, yours and ours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marie says:

    Really love reading your interpretation of your experiemces. It makes me want to visit too!


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