Artist Anna Marrow’s bold screen prints capture the sense of freedom that a trip to the seaside brings, from the lure of the ice cream van to the thrill of a lido diving board. WORDS Emma Sole. PHOTOS Jo Hounsome Photography.
Bristol-based printmaker Anna Marrow loves the sea. ‘But I’m more likely to be on the beach with a blanket and a book, rather than dashing straight into cold water covered in goose fat,’ she adds.
Anna has huge respect for divers, swimmers and surfers – ‘those brave souls who venture into the British seas at all times of year’ – and her uplifting, colourful images reflect that fascination. She grew up near the sea on the east coast of the UK, lived on the north-west coast for a while, and has holidayed all her life in Cornwall and Wales. The pure, refreshing clarity of her lines and saturated colour choices evoke romantic memories of childhood days at the breezy British coast.
It’s unsurprising, then, that Anna finds so much inspiration in older seaside resorts. The traditional ice cream van – symbolic of childish glee and pleasure – features in many of her prints, accompanied by acidic pinks redolent of hot days, silly snapshots and raspberry sauce. You can almost hear the jingle as the van pootles along the promenade…
The architecture of the coast also inspires Anna, especially when the urban and the natural are intertwined. Lidos are a particular favourite, and showcase her vintage-style divers ‘up above the clouds, leaping into the unknown, fearlessly’. They embody the freedom and possibility that comes with water and the outside air; the grace and beauty of the body in flight. Her surfers, too, are dynamic adventurers in the waves, drawing on a range of homegrown influences but also on Modernist Americana of the 1950s and ’60s.
Anna’s eclectic approach produces striking images that often reference a particular time and place in seaside history, but her bold colour palette keeps the artwork feeling completely contemporary. For this reason, her pieces are both of the moment and nostalgic – richly evocative, powerfully stimulating and sensual in all ways.
The silkscreen process allows Anna the flexibility to include a range of elements, including collage and line drawing – the possibilities are as endless and as enchanting as a coastal sky. ‘One of the things that drew me to screen printing is the fact that you mix colours separately and apply each one as a separate layer so the hues stay sharp and fresh,’ she says, adding that her choices are highly intuitive, drawn as she is to very vivid, contrasting colours – a legacy of her seaside childhood, perhaps? A dive into an Anna Marrow image is as glorious and invigorating as a dip in the sea around Britain. No goose fat required.