Hazel Bryer is an illustrator and printmaker. She works mostly with linocuts, relishing the handmade process of cutting and inking up a block in this screen dominant age. Having been hooked on making lino prints since University, Hazel has built a beautiful body of work inspired primarily by open water and London’s swimming hubs, notably the lidos - and since 2019 Cornwall, where the sea has become her swimming pool. Married to a chef and taking on a walled garden to grow vegetables, Hazel has been eating seasonally for a while and was drawn to the campaign by the idea that this shift in perspective could be applied to floristry as well as food, and wanted to be a part of raising the awareness of this slightly lesser publicised issue.
A LITTLE BIT OF BACKGROUND ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE. HOW AND WHEN DID YOU START AND WHY?
I’ve been making linocut prints ever since getting completely hooked on the process at university (Westminster, Harrow). We had a brilliant print studio on campus, which was always comparatively quiet compared to the computer areas - with the added bonus of a long-suffering, incredibly wise technician on hand to impart his knowledge at any given moment. After graduating, another tutor gifted me her table top press and I have taken this with me wherever I go, continuing to make reduction linocut prints from my spare room in London and during the past few years, in Cornwall.
WHY WERE YOU INTERESTED IN BEING INVOLVED IN THE CAMPAIGN? HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO YOUR EXISTING PRACTICE?
I have followed SSAW’s campaigns for a while now, since moving down to Fowey in 2019 for the opening of Fitzroy restaurant with my husband Ethan, who is the head chef there. We always tried to eat seasonally while living in London but never felt as compelled to do so while being surrounded by convenience and a multitude of options. Living in Cornwall has shifted our perspectives - our menus change daily depending on what’s growing or at its best in the local region. I’m interested in the idea that this shift in perspective can be applied to floristry as well as food, and wanted to be a part of raising the awareness of this slightly lesser publicised issue. I was also already using our own garden as inspiration for my prints so this campaign felt like a natural fit.
AT SSAW, WE REALLY FEEL ART CAN MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON OUR UNDERSTANDING AND CONNECTION TO SEASONALITY. HAS ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR DRAWN YOU TO CREATING WITH/BEING INSPIRED BY THE NATURAL WORLD AS A PRIMARY SUBJECT?
In the past, my prints have largely been inspired by outdoor swimming - predominantly the lidos of London that I used to visit as an escape from busy city life. Since moving closer to the coast, I have used the sea as my swimming pool, and inspiration. I have also been making a series of prints based on our walled garden and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, I love the contrast between the man made structures of brick walls and glasshouses and the abundance of foliage they contain.
WHAT IS YOUR OWN HISTORY WITH/RELATIONSHIP TO FLOWERS/FLORISTRY/FLOWER FARMING?
I love to watch the coming and going of English flowers with the changing seasons. This had always taken place at a distance for me during our time in the City, and my main source of a floral ‘hit’ was Columbia road. When we moved into a rented cottage in Charlestown in 2019 we had a garden for the first time in 10 years. I was able to see the rose bushes budding and blooming and they felt all the more remarkable for being temporary. We took over a walled garden on a friend’s farm about a year later, mainly with the purpose of growing produce for the restaurant, but interspersing our vegetable and salad beds with areas of wild flowers. I have learnt so much about growing and the sheer amount of energy, skill and time that goes into farming, be it vegetables or flowers. I still feel there’s lots more learning to be done.
WHO OR WHAT DO YOU TAKE INSPIRATION FROM, DID YOU LEARN FROM ANYBODY AT ALL?
I found the previous posters for this campaign incredibly inspiring - particularly Rosanna Morris’ woodcut print which has a handmade feel to it but still creates a direct impact. I wanted to bring the campaign into people’s homes, to domesticate it to an extent. There are a couple of printmakers I follow who use the process very well to create these ‘domestic’ scenes - I love the work of Vanessa Lubach and Helen Murgatroyd.
HOW DO THE SEASONS AFFECT YOU IN YOUR PRACTICE, AND DAY TO DAY, NOT JUST IN YOUR WORK, BUT IN YOUR OWN ROUTINES AND PHYSICALLY TOO? HAS IT IMPACTED THE WAY YOU RELATE TO OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE?
It’s impossible not to be guided by the seasons in Cornwall. Our day-to-day work is governed by the tourist season, you can sense the anticipation of visitors growing from Easter, building up to our busiest time of the year in August, then starting to breathe again in September. I hardly make any prints during the Summer season, but enjoy being swept along in the excitement, grabbing days at the beach when we can and eating salads from the garden. We’re more grounded from September - March, taking time to slowly prepare comforting meals from the root vegetables we’ve harvested and spending more time in the studio. I value the contrast between these seasons, you can’t fully appreciate one without the other.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE DOING? DO YOU HAVE ANY STRONG PASSIONS / VIEWPOINTS WITH REGARDS TO FLOWERS/FLORISTRY/FLOWER FARMING AND NATURE/SEASONALITY/SUSTAINABILITY THAT YOU WISH TO AMPLIFY?
As I said, it’s all still a bit of a learning curve for me, but I have become passionate about maintaining soil health in all areas of farming - it really does seem to be one of the most crucial environmental issues we’re facing. I also admire SSAW’s comparison with the farm-to-table movement for flower farming - it makes so much more sense to invest in seasonal varieties, particularly if we can also encourage some biodiverse wildlife into the mix!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT FEBRUARY?
I love the sense that nature is beginning to ‘wake up’ again after a long, dark hibernation period. We always say that Cornwall has two Spring seasons - one in early Autumn when the wild garlic and alexanders begin leafing again along the coastal paths. ‘True’ Spring has all the more significance for most people, as it is a welcome awakening of green after what can be a hard winter for many people down here. The first daffodils never fail to fill me with joy.
AND FINALLY, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PERFECT VALENTINE?
Hard question! Nothing too fancy. Probably just a nice long dog walk along the coastal path, a dip in the sea, then home for a pie in front of the fire. I also always appreciate a handmade card!