Meet 'Prints' William

7th December, 2023
by Katie | 4 Min Read
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The work of William Lana, printmaker & Sharpham Trustee

Sharpham people are creative people!

Many of us here have a creative practice as well as a mindfulness practice, while retreatants continue to impress with stories and imagery of their own artworks.

Here we zero in on former Sharpham Trust chair William Lana, who dons a printmaking apron for several hours of each week.

KeithharingportraitWhen William was a teenager, the 1980s streets & subways of his home city New York were being decorated by a soon-to-be famous artist.

"Keith Haring was operating in my area so when I came out the door there might be a new Keith Haring there on the wall...I loved it," said William.

William was interested in street art - and sculpture and oil-painting too. He visited the Museum of Modern Art regularly because he had free student entry, witnessing Rothkos and Monets close up.

Yet when an esteemed NYC art college talked about offering him a scholarship to attend, he turned it down. 
Said William: "I realised that I'd be too close to my parents and as a 17-year-old, I didn't want that. I mean, I love my parents but..."

Artist Keith Haring at work in 1986
Rob Bogaerts, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Keith Haring at work in the mid-1980s

Instead, he took up a university place in England, at the University of Kent, studying economics, politics and international relations.

"I was disappointed that I didn't do art," he said, "but I kept up an art practice. I'd produce a mural in my college room made of ash and then I'd have the Vice-Chancellor in my room the day after saying 'What is that, young man? Take it down immediately!'."

Since that time, William's life has encompassed politics, finance, retail (his business Greenfibres is at the top of Totnes' High Street), family, meditation and the charity sector.

As Chair of the Sharpham Trust, he oversaw the charity's expansion from a single retreat venue, The Barn, to an organisation offering multiple places and spaces for people to connect to mindfulness and the land.

He's still a Sharpham Trustee - and helped to curate work from local artists to adorn the walls of the Coach House retreat venue - but these days he's able to return to the intense creativity he first displayed as a young man. Each week he devotes several hours to printmaking.

Printmaker Louise Scammell drawing underwater
Louise Scammell

"My printmaking has come under the tutelage of Louise Scammell who scubadives and does underwater sketching with special paper and crayon," said William.

"Under her I've tried all kinds of printmaking and I suppose really it's a process and practice I'm growing into".

William spends up to a day a week creating work. "In the last year it's been around rivers, and flowing - my works in that time have been quite colourful & expressive reflecting the last 12 months of positivity and upward spiral in my private life," he said.

Sometimes they're a scene, sometimes they are more figurative, but often transient, fluid, reflective. 

"A bit like what we do at Sharpham, with my art I’m looking to suggest a way to be at peace with nature and ourselves rather than 'tell' anyone anything," he said. 

"I think the artist is half the process and the viewer is half the process. That feels more inclusive," he said.

"My art self has always been quite private, very much done for my own education, and growth, but about 15 years ago I thought I'd like to do something with others. A little bit like if you're doing Buddhist sitting and you decide you want to find your sangha, your group. I wanted that for my art practice."

He joined Dartington Printmakers, with Michael Honnor and continued his practice.

Right now he's in a weekly class in South Brent, currently working with wood plates printed onto recycled Chine collé - thin paper made from particular plants and coloured with natural dyes. In early 2024, he'll likely release a run of 14 original prints, illustrate a small book of poems by local poets, and have a joint show in the Autumn with 4 other printmakers at Birdwood House in Totnes.

He's also due to get married - to an art-framer & restorer! His bride-to-be Elizabeth runs Leading Edge Art Gallery & Framers in Ivybridge.

Meanwhile, there's a neat echo in the family. William's son Max did the opposite of his dad. He left a science course to attend art school and is now a graphic-designer who has worked on William's website:


Keith Haring portrait: dmax3270, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

William Lana and his work as a printmaker