Annie Hogg has always loved being outdoors, finding comfort in nature. Her business ‘The Wild Hedge Ink Co.’ reflects this passion.
Based in Dunmanway, Annie creates her inks from natural materials foraged from the hedgerows on her doorstep. She first coaxes the colour from raw materials such as oak galls, cherry tree bark, nettle leaves, lichens, alder cones, montbretia flowers, cleaver roots, hawthorn berries. It’s an ever-growing list.
“Initially I began with the sole intention of creating my own supplies for illustration,” explains the artist. However, it soon became apparent that there was an enthusiasm and interest in the process, particularly amongst artists, makers and crafters. “I also get people who are looking to explore their environment in a new way,” she says. “And harvesting colour from our environment is certainly a captivating way of doing this. It also attracts people who like the poetry behind where the colours come from and the novelty of capturing a time and place through the small lens of the inks.”
Annie’s workshops, which provided a valuable income alongside the precarious business of earning from commissions and prints, unfortunately stalled when the pandemic hit this year.
As a result, her plan to open an online shop by Christmas went into fast forward and she has had it stocked with inks, pigment sets and some prints since the start of June (thewildhedgeinkco.bigcartel.com). She also developed a one-hour online workshop in the basics of ink making. This proved so successful that Annie now offers two further workshops; one in charcoal making and turning the results into ink, and the second on modifiers to expand the colour potential of the inks. “I am thoroughly enjoying the zoom encounters I must say,” says Annie “…you get to have a good peek at other people’s kitchens, and I always fancied myself to be on the telly! It actually works out better in some ways for people taking the workshop, as I send out two downloadable videos and preparation pdfs with recipes also.”
Annie has a degree in sculpture but she followed a path in organic horticulture for a few years, which brought her to the Scottish Highlands, before returning to Ireland. “When I first happened across the rocks of the Beara Peninsula, it felt like the land reached into my marrow, and I stayed,” she says. After working in healthfood shops for a while, her creativity and love of the outdoors drew her towards a career as an illustrator.
“I was looking for a specific watercolour and came across someone in Berlin who was making small batches herself. What I wanted was sold out however, so I thought ‘I bet I could do that myself’,” explains Annie. Almost overnight The Wild Hedge Ink Co. was born.
Ever since, Annie can be found in the hedgerows.
“The history is fascinating…I find it a mind boggling thought, that the earliest proof of colour production into a paint is dated to 100,000 years ago, in a cave overlooking the sea in South Africa. And this is before you even mention the differences between Eastern and Western techniques!”
Annie hopes to exhibit a collection of her original mark making next year and expand her print sales into some local and national shops. “I would really hope that the work gets people looking at what wildness we have left here, gets us chatting and interacting with it,” she says passionately.
Keep an eye out for The Wild Hedge Ink Co. 2021 Irish/English calendar…it would make a beautiful Christmas present.