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Wimbledon artist Margaret Sparks

PUBLISHED: 16:56 23 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:54 20 February 2013

Wimbledon artist Margaret Sparks

Wimbledon artist Margaret Sparks

Winning a prize at London's Victoria & Albert Museum would be a major coup for any artist - but for Margaret Sparks, who lives in Wimbledon, it was all the more extraordinary because the artwork was the first print she had ever exhibited

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2011

Winning a prize at Londons Victoria & Albert Museum would be a major coup for any artist but for Margaret Sparks, who lives in Wimbledon, the achievement was all the more extraordinary because the artwork in question was the first print she had ever exhibited.

Until recently, the 64-year-old had specialised in making decorative baskets out of willow and recycled materials, but a couple of years ago she decided to expand her skills by enrolling on a printmaking course at the Sutton College of Learning for Adults (SCOLA).

Little did she guess, however, that when their tutor suggested they should all try submitting work for the V&As annual Inspired By exhibition, not only would her beautiful linocut, A Medieval Forest (pictured above), be selected for the show, it would also win a prize.

It was a bit of a surprise; especially as I am actually very new to printmaking, have never sold any or even tried to! laughs Margaret. For this particular exhibition, artists have to submit a work that is inspired by something in the V&A, and the idea for mine came from a medieval wood carving I had seen in the gallery, which formed the base of a pulpit.

A former librarian, Margaret originally studied history at Oxford University, and only got into art and crafts after she retired in 2007 and found she had more time on her hands.

The courses at Sutton are so fantastic, and people are producing some amazing work there, she adds. Another of the artists had a piece of her jewellery accepted at the V&A as part of the same competition.

In terms of the inspiration for her work, Margaret says her local surroundings, in Surrey and London, play a key part.

I recently did a print that was inspired by the seagulls feeding on the water at Cannon Hill Common, while another one depicts the railway lines at Clapham Junction, says Margaret. I also find museums very inspiring places to be and often meet up with friends to do drawing at the V&A and the British Museum.

As for what comes next, Margaret is now looking forward to exhibiting her basketwork at an exhibition in North London this Easter, and inspired by her recent success at the V&A will be continuing with her printmaking, too.

  • To see more of Margarets basketwork, visit basketryplus.org or pop along to the forthcoming On the Wall exhibition at Lauderdale House, North London, from April 5-17. For details of the many courses on offer at SCOLA, visit www.scola.ac.uk

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