Agnes Larkins

Once in a while there is someone whose art work gets into your mind and won’t go away. This is what has happened to me with the art of Agnes Larkins, friend, student, supporter, whose death this February was a great sadness to all who knew her. A selection of her etchings forms part of the current exhibition at Dove Studios: on for only one more day…

I got to know Agnes 20 years ago when she started attending my Monday morning etching sessions. She got straight down to work and never stopped until last Autumn, when her illness finally prevented her from coming. Right from the start her work was original, inquiring and good. Like herself, it was quiet, but could flash out;

Hope

was experimental but somehow always worked,

Northern Sky

was joyful but also dared to approach, with a characteristically light touch, the mysteries of life.

Out there

On her return back to the land of the living after one hospitalisation she created a book comprising seven dark etchings to describe her visions during that time: the introduction reads:

The Woman and the Dolphin

The woman didn’t leave her bed in daylight

Curtained off, unseen until dark.

Then a movement:

A hooded figure crept out

And paced the ward.

When she returned to safety

she lay embracing a toy dolphin

almost as large as herself

it seemed to pacify her.

Watching from a distance

Her ritual became important to me.

Echoes of stories I had read

Drifted in and comforted me.

Images of healing when I closed my eyes.

 

Here are two of them.

 

In a lighter vein, she could summon up the autumn wind with a few lines,

Windfall

Imbue a drawing with great feeling with the same economy of line.

Ruth

A year or so before the end of her life, the class in the studio was spoofing on the idea of doing ‘extreme’ etching, like extreme ironing while white water rafting, which had been on the tv. Agnes didn’t just join in: she was in fact the only one who actually went and did it, etching plates and tools in hand in a glider over the Pyrenees.

Extreme Etching

One of the last projects she undertook, which took her a year or more to complete with a well-paced urgency and the constant threat that it might remain unfinished because of ill-health, was a book of etchings each one a description of members of her close knit family. She called it: ‘Let’s go together and look at the sky  A Celebration’. Here is her nephew John:

‘John  Freedom  Let’s go and discover the reason for ducks’

And here is the last print, Agnes herself:

Agnes, Gliding, Looking

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8 comments
  1. Thank you, Bron, for these images and memories. That last print could be a leaf or a fish or a bird – any one of them would be appropriate. I always thought of her as a bird. Agnes was such a special person. We were very lucky to have known her.

  2. fiona winning said:

    very delicate, touching the heart , moving images,

  3. What a lovely post. Agnes was obviously a very special person as well as an excellent printmaker. I loved the doing approach rather than the talking approach to extreme printmaking! Hope you don’t mind my reblogging.

  4. These prints are fantastic. And your post was very moving. Thank you.
    Drew

  5. this feels like a privileged insight into Agnes Larkins’ sensibilities.

  6. settleandchase said:

    How completely moving and beautiful these are..

    • Sandi Kirk said:

      dear Bronwenbradshaw, Thank you for welcoming us to your studio this morning; your work was so inspiring.

      You also alerted me to being able to see Agnes Larkins’ work on your blog. I have just spent another entralling half an hour absorbing her spirit all over again.

      with thanks, Sandi Kirk (and Joanna Briar). Xx

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