Rachel Gracey is an artist thrilled by the power of nature. A contemporary printmaker, at the core of her practice we find the created world in all its undulating forms - from the roiling seas off the British Isles, to pastoral landscapes, tended parks and more recently, the rugged terrain of California. The wide open skies of this State were an obvious draw for an artist who has always been fascinated by monumentality and the respect engendered by an art work so immense its scale is utterly absorbing and the effect on the viewer, transformative.
Gracey began her career with a strong sense of the potential for physicality in art. She not only wanted to follow convention and draw in pencil, but to use materials such as wood and metal to create both lines and form. Influenced by the spare grandeur of works by sculptors; the deliberate and uncluttered forms forged by Anthony Caro and the simplicity of line in the sculptures of David Smith for example, Gracey sought to develop her own artistic language that allowed her to respond to the challenges of engaging with the movement of shapes in space within the discipline of printmaking.
It was after visiting the Guggenheim in New York and seeing a mobile by the artist Alexander Calder which Gracey credits as one of the most important influences on her artistic practice. Later exhibitions of his mobiles at Burlington Gardens in 1992 and 2013 resulted in Gracey embracing negative white spaces and allowing these ‘blank’ areas to heighten the presence of form and colour in her works. Far from remaining empty, these white spaces themselves are charged by the often vibrantly coloured shapes that surround them and the play of light and shadow that transforms them.
Since this moment, Gracey has recognised how important the white of the paper is in relation to the build up of colour in her printing process. She breathes light between the shifting forms that make up the rural landscapes and seascapes that constitute her subject matter.
Throughout the 20th Century we can find examples of artists, who, like Gracey, have become seduced by the absorbing and enthralling process and power, of printmaking. The making allows for a level of experimentation and collaboration which results in a practice which is constantly labile and sometimes throws up unexpected results. It reflects Gracey’s own desire to go beyond mere observation and her commitment to explore and reveal the unseen. As her subject is landscape, delving into process can result in works that are uniquely evocative: traces of colour through trees and bushes stir memories in the artist and viewer alike as shifting thoughts seek out recognisable forms and places.
Gracey depicts windows into vistas that constitute moments in a journey. They are the connective lines throughout her works. From lively adventures to explorations of energy, form and colour, Gracey draws us into her way of looking, feeling and experiencing. She enables us to see beyond the simple surface, into the often sublime spaces that nature offers up, quietly and powerfully.
After studying fine art at Bristol, Gracey specialised in printmaking. She gained an MA in Printmaking at Wimbledon School of Art, where her lithographs were awarded the Michael Putnam Prize. Gracey belonged to the avant garde Artichoke Print Workshop in Brixton, from 1995-2007, assembling an innovative and varied portfolio. She has exhibited at various public institutions, galleries and high profile venues including The Royal Academy, The Barbican, Bankside, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, The Groucho Club and The Mall Galleries. She is now represented by Zuleika Gallery.
Her work is in Collections at the British Museum, The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, the Ashmolean Oxford, Guanlan Printmaking Museum and in the Royal Collection.
In March 2019 Rachel was elected an RE by the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers.
Bankside Gallery launched an interview with Rachel Gracey on their ‘Feed’. You can find it here https://www.banksidegallery.com/news/62-international-women-s-day-series-rachel-gracey-re/