Sydney based print maker Allie Webb boasts a delectable portfolio based on the most globally loved and celebrated thing since pretty much forever… food!
Responsible for the creative designs featured amongst some of Sydney’s most notorious bars such as Frankie’s Pizza and The Baxter Inn, Allie’s prints are light-hearted and humorous in nature, recreating the relationships that unfold around tables all over the city. With a solo exhibition at China Heights on the menu, we caught up with Allie to discuss her work.
Rich with gastronomical detail and plenty of hidden flavour, the work of Allie Webb is the perfect main course for hungry art lovers.
HAPPY: Can you tell us a little bit about your creative space and process?
ALLIE: Yes, so my studio is in my home where I live in the Northern Beaches in Sydney. I have two desks; a high table for my press and cutting tools and a low one for my computer and tools. I have a pet eclectus parrot that sits with me for most of the day too.
Before starting a new print I’ll do a few charcoal drawings. Then I’ll pin them up to a wall and use that as reference while I draw directly onto the lino. I’ll usually just work on one print at a time so my brain doesn’t feel cluttered.
HAPPY: Where do you draw your influences from?
ALLIE: The pieces always have a sense of humour about them. They’re all based on dining out, whether it’s at a refined, fancy restaurant or a dive bar. I like people watching. I also have a large collection of vintage cookbooks and old photography that I reference from.
HAPPY: What kind of things do you like to do in your downtime?
ALLIE: I love travelling with my husband. We do quite a bit of hiking together too. Tasmania and the Blue Mountains are favourite spots in Australia. I love dining at old restaurants, institutions.
HAPPY: Your works comprises a lot of food and wine. What’s the significance of this?
ALLIE: My husband has a few bars and restaurants that I’ve done the creative direction for. Restaurant Hubert, Frankie’s Pizza, The Baxter Inn and Shady Pines Saloon. I also used to design recipe books at Penguin’s Lantern. I also used to work at pubs and wine bars in Melbourne while studying Communication Design at RMIT. So I’ve continuously worked with hospitality since leaving school.
This has had a direct influence on my art. I love the history of food and wine too. I collect old recipe books and photography from past decades.
HAPPY: You have one last meal on this earth. What is it?
ALLIE: Thickly sliced saucisson, some really good quality sourdough bread, butter and top notch anchovies. This served with a magnum of red Burgundy.
HAPPY: Your prints have a main focus point and then lots of hidden little elements. Is this intentional? Why?
ALLIE: Lino is all in reverse. You need to start with strong dark shapes and work from there. Once you have the basic composition you can let loose on detail. I haven’t really thought about it too much, just a natural response to the medium.
HAPPY: What role does the audience play in your work?
ALLIE: All the work is light hearted. It’s there for enjoyment.
HAPPY: Why do you choose to stick with black and white themes, rather than incorporating colour?
ALLIE: I haven’t thought about this too much. I’d like to in the future, but it would be minimal. I’ve always enjoyed working with charcoal and I’m drawn to dark images. Black and white photography. German expressionism has an influence on my work.
HAPPY: What artists are you into at the moment? Both local and international?
ALLIE: Max Beckmann is definitely an enduring favourite. Richard Diebenkorn’s charcoal works. Jim Dine, American folk art.
HAPPY: You have an exhibition coming up at China Heights, can you tell us a little bit about it?
ALLIE: All the works will be based around going out. Fancy dinners, classic pubs, strippers, streetscapes and table scenes.
HAPPY: What’s next for you?
ALLIE: I’m going for a big three month trip around Australia with my husband. Hopefully I’ll find a lot of inspiration from the outback and continue to work with lino. I’d love to do some giant linocuts. They’re a bitch to print though!
Allie’s solo show Happy Hour opens August 11th at China Heights Gallery, Sydney.