Wednesday 7 February 2018

My biggest ever linocut – and it’s for Macmillan!

Macmillan’s Support Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester is expanding and the new bigger and better space will open this Spring. There will be great new facilities – and a large linocut on the wall, my first commission and the largest linocut I’ve ever produced. I’m very proud, and still quite nervous, as I’m in the process of creating this special piece of artwork.
How did this come about? Well, it’s a long story and one that I’m only just ready to share.
It began in April 2015, when I returned from a fabulous birthday trip. I’d spent a week with my husband in a cottage in Aberdovey, on the coast of mid Wales. I’d also fitted in a weekend linocut workshop with Ian Philips and I came home on a high, to find a letter waiting for me. I’d been called back following a mammogram. I was confident all would be fine.
Everything moved quickly. I soon learnt that all was not well. I had ‘DCIS’, which was “good news” as it’s not life threatening, but also bad news, as all my options involved major surgery. On May 8 2015 I had a mastectomy and reconstruction at Wythenshawe Hospital and expected to be well and back at work 6-8 weeks later, and busy getting back to normal. However I’m still on a journey of recovery and I can thank Macmillan (and many others) for helping me feel more like myself at last, as well as setting me on a new path with my printmaking.
A year after the surgery I learnt of the Macmillan Support Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital and decided to drop in. I was struggling and knew it. That’s when I met Debbie Smith, the Centre Manager and learnt about the support on offer to everyone affected by cancer.
In August 2016 I left my demanding job, as I was still in physical pain and really conflicted. I needed to focus on my recovery, from yoga to walking, listening to my body. In the same month we lost my mother-in-law to her short and difficult battle with cancer.

Bit by bit, I tried new things and met new people. With Macmillan I walked at Quarry Bank Mill, tried Zumba and took a mindfulness course. I sobbed my way through much of the excellent HOPE course, as part of our small group. I had great support from a regular counsellor, thanks to Macmillan. Over almost a year (and alongside other specialist support), she helped me come to terms with my body and find some oomph and joy again.
I only started to return to my printmaking during the HOPE course, as I set myself new goals. Months later Debbie Smith asked me if I would create a linocut for the new Centre – a real commission. The building work is underway. The project team approved the commission and I’m working to a deadline of 21 March to deliver a piece of artwork that is really important to me. Yes, it’s the biggest one I’ve ever done, and it’s my first commission, however it’s more. For me it’s a linocut that represents hope and a new path. Hopefully it will connect with other Macmillan clients and it’s an opportunity to raise funds for Macmillan too. I’m nervous as it’s outside my comfort zone and I hope to do justice to Macmillan and all the faith and support they have shown to me. I’m excited to be working on such a challenging and positive piece of work.
As there are lots of unknowns in working on something so large, I decided to start by creating a quarter sized prototype of the linocut, to prove the process. The A3 image is almost finished.

I’ve decided to share the development of the big one on this blog. The A1 lino itself has arrived and it’s huge. I’m planning on tracking its journey from here to the framed original linocut print on the Macmillan Centre wall (fingers well and truly crossed!). There’ll be regular posts – please check back for updates!

To see more of my work, please check out my website: where you will also find an online Shop with currently available work. Thanks!


  1. It has been a very tough journey Carolyn..... but you’ve come through into the sunshine and achieved lots including this beautiful print that will hang in a place that has meant so much to you. I’m so proud of you and look forward to all the other prints in the future!! Xxx