What are you inspired by in your art and what medium do you work in?
I started thinking of print making prior to my retirement from teaching. I have been a keen wildlife photographer for some time with a focus on birds, in particular. I have travelled a lot with a particular love for South America and its amazing biodiversity. I decided to use these images to inspire a series of linocuts and I have “progressed” from there. I am largely self-taught but have been fortunate enough to get great support from established local artists.
Where is your studio based and what can we expect when we visit?
I am based at the Jan Park studio and gallery in Jackfield, which is part of the tile museum site. I also have work at the Bolthole (Ironbridge ), Six Seasons Gallery in Church Stretton and Lamorna Pottery in Cornwall. At the Jan Park studio I do the bulk of my planning and printing work. I exhibit my prints of birds, steam locomotives and local industrial scenes. From these I have developed a range of mugs, coasters, and cards.
How long have you been involved in Secret Severn Art and why is being part of it important?
I became involved in Secret Severn from the start in 2016. I was introduced to a local artist who invited me to join the first art trail. I was very much the amateur and surprised to get my work exhibited. My particular skill is an understanding of how things are done by committee and the ability to chair meetings. I quickly recognised that Secret Severn needed a stronger structure, an appropriate constitution, and a proper planning process. Fortunately, I met Jan Park who brought with her a very strong business background, a flair for curating exhibitions and a determination to organise in a thorough manner. Jan is also a well-established artist. This partnership has transformed Secret Severn, which is now both financially and physically, a sustainable event.
I enjoy being the chair of Secret Severn and the work gives me great sense of purpose and direction.
What will your involvement in Secret Severn be? What will you be exhibiting?
I chair Secret Severn and work with all the artists in a manner which is supportive (I hope ). As chair I am very fortunate to have a Vice-Chair, Jan Park, who possesses many of the skills I don’t have! This makes for an effective team. We are also well supported by an excellent and very professional treasurer (Elaine Campbell ) and a number of artist colleagues who help with planning and preparation.
Why is an event like Secret Severn important to the regional arts scene?
The Ironbridge Gorge and the wider hinterland has a richness of active artists. Prior to the art trail these artists had little opportunity to show their work under a collaborative umbrella. The public would have had little idea of this wealth of talent and we at Secret Severn make it our business to show case this wealth of creative ability. We hope it puts Telford, and the Gorge on the art map.
For someone who is new to Secret Severn, what are your top tips for visiting?
Whatever you do, the Footprint exhibition is a must see. A good quality brochure is available at many places in Ironbridge Gorge and gives information about all the artists and venues. The art studios at Fusion will be open for visitors. There are pop-up studios at Jackfield Village Hall and at Hodge Bower in Ironbridge. The Maws Centre is home to a number of studios and is close to the tile museum site.
Finally, can you tell us how people can find out more about you and your work and how they can connect with you on social media as well?
I have a website ( www.rodsheppardprintmaker.co.uk ), Instagram@rodsheppard, and I feature on Facebook. My mobile number is 07977 518758.