As some of you may know, over the last few months, I’ve been organizing an exhibition, Print & Press. The exhibition showcases not just my own recent work, but also gives my students an opportunity to exhibit their work in the largest commercial gallery in Europe, The Biscuit Factory.
How did it all came about you may ask? …
Some of you will remember the annual print exhibition Rebecca Vincent and I organized every year at The Biscuit Factory based on the work of our students at Horsley Printmakers.
The first exhibition took place in 2005, three years after The Biscuit Factory opened. It featured work from Rebecca and I, as well as that of our guest tutors and our students. It was so successful The Biscuit Factory invited us back again for the following year. The exhibition succeeded in raising the profile of printmaking and showcased the diversity of handmade original prints.
Sadly, once Rebecca and I took the decision to dissolve our partnership, the annual exhibition, which had by then been running for seven years, came to an end too. It had grown exponentially and Rebecca wanted to focus on her own work. I was not in a position to take it over. Yet it was always at the back of my mind that should the opportunity arise again, I would love to resurrect the idea.
I’ve been running printmaking workshops in my own studio at Ochrelands near Hexham for almost two years. I felt the time was right to approach Sam Knowles, 2D Curator at The Biscuit Factory. The answer was an emphatic yes!
The next step was to find out if my students were interested. An email sent midway through last year established there was lots of enthusiasm for the idea. Sam and I decided to go ahead with an exhibition in the spring of 2018 and call it Print and Press. As 2017 moved into November, all went quiet as the deadline for submissions approached. I don’t mind admitting I had a wobbly moment when I thought no work would arrive after all and I was going to look a little stupid. Oh ye of little faith!
I needn’t have worried. By the end of the month a healthy flow of entries began to come in and by the time the deadline arrived I had folders full of work to take to the selection meeting. Following the principles that Rebecca and I put in place in those early exhibitions, we wanted to ensure that the exhibition gave everyone an opportunity to show at least one print whilst at the same time maintaining the high standard of work shown in the gallery. It’s been a great opportunity to reflect on the quality of the work my students created. Whilst some came to me with lots of experience, others came as complete beginners!
The exhibition was open to past participants from Horsley Printmakers days as well as my current students. Why? Well, it has been very satisfying to see the progress made by some of my early students. Susan Mannion from the west of Ireland is one of them, Mo Healy and Diana Fitzpatrick from Northumberland are two others. They exhibit their work in a variety of galleries from Dublin to London to the Scottish Borders. They serve as an example to those who come to my workshops, and who use my studio facilities currently, as to what is possible should they want to pursue printmaking seriously. I myself am an example of how one printmaking workshop can transform one’s future direction. I signed up for one of Rebecca’s workshops many moons ago and the rest is history.
Once Sam completed his selection there was a lot of work to be done in terms of costing the framing, sending invoices out to the participants and making sure everyone paid their share before the work was due to be framed. I had forgotten how much was involved in organizing it! Since January I’ve been scanning images, preparing invoices, getting the work ready with individual framing instructions for all the framed and mounted prints, collating artist statements and consignment notes and liaising with The Biscuit Factory’s marketing department. It’s been quite a marathon.
Should the exhibition run again next year, I can see several ways in which the organizing of it could be made much more efficient and, if there is enthusiasm amongst regular studio users and workshop participants, I would like to make Print and Press more of a co-operative event with volunteers to help with some of the work involved.
This year Print & Press features hand made original prints from fifteen of us – twelve students and three tutors, Chris Daunt, Michelle Kinniment and myself. There are almost ninety prints in the exhibition. You can see one example of each artist’s work on my website. If you wish to see the rest, come to the exhibition!
The Biscuit Factory Spring Launch
The Print & Press exhibition forms part of The Biscuit Factory’s Spring Launch on March 2nd, 6-9pm.
And here is the line up on the night…
• Meet headline artist John Brenton and chat with other exhibiting artists (including
myself and all the artists contributing to the exhibition)
• Printmaking demos by Carol Nunan.
• Mini craft op up from Crafthood
• Jeweller Lauren Bell Brown chats about her new work, featured in The Biscuit
Factory’s Botanical Collection
• Explore Hexham Book Festival’s 2018 programme
• Beautiful blooms from The Biscuit Factory’s pop up flower stall, Ouseburn-based
Food & Drink…
Enjoy a complimentary drink on arrival and a bar service (selling local beers and Prosecco
For informal eats, drop in to The Factory Kitchen cafe’s new After Hours Social, or book a table at our a la carte restaurant, artisan, headed up by our award winning chef.
I do hope I’ll see you at the preview but if you can’t make it the exhibition will be on until May 25th.