ArtHouse Gallery: Printers Extraordinaire
Venue: ArtHouse Gallery
Date(s): 18.4.23 - 6.5.23
Time(s): All Day
ArtHouse, 65 Eastbank Street, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 1EJ
18th April – 6th May 2023
An exhibition by a new group of likeminded artists will be taking to the walls of the ArtHouse in Southport this Spring. Representing a diverse range of skills and interests, their common thread is their passion for printmaking.
Mervyn Thomas explains: “We came together last September as students on a beginners printing course at Southport College and currently do a full day of printing every Thursday. On display at The ArtHouse will be an assortment of work demonstrating the wide range of printing procedures that we have been taught. Although the images are usually printed onto paper, some students have experimented with printing on sweatshirts or tote bags and even onto clay.”
In this day and age it seems implausible to consider a time when artworks weren’t available instantly. When there was no print on demand or posters providing instant wall art. Printmaking certainly changed all that.
Predating the invention of paper by over a century, the origins of printmaking can be traced back to China’s Han Dynasty during the 1st millennium BC.
Blending creativity with technical skill, today printmaking still remains the most common process employed by contemporary artists.
By exploiting the simple art of repetition, artists from Dürer to Rembrandt, Hokusai to Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec to Warhol, have continued to discover new methods of transferring multiple impressions of their ideas onto surfaces from paper, fabric and canvas to metal and billboards.
From the creation of woodcut prints to the accessibility of today’s techniques using digital printing, the ability to reproduce images has continued to develop into an equally aesthetic and commercial process.
The course is run by Curriculum Leader and Printmaking Lecturer
at Southport College, Grant Lewis: “Having taught printmaking for 28 years, I have to say this group of students have shown an enthusiasm and dedication like no others. The programme was set up at to teach students a new range of skills that would help them produce work to sell or showcase a portfolio to gain work. The first 16 weeks was an ‘Introduction to Printmaking’ and we investigated a broad range of printmaking techniques including Direct and off-set Mono Printing, Lino, Collagraph, Drypoint, Etching & Aquatint and Photo-Silkscreen. All of the group were desperate to carry on to the next 16 weeks of the programme (‘Advance Printmaking’) and all 15 did. Each student developed their own individual themes, utilising skills learned in the first course and investigating advanced techniques to further their practice. The whole team of ‘Printers Extraordinaire’ certainly now have the skills to hold their own in any exhibition.”
Whatever their personal preferences, ‘Printers Extraordinaire’ are united under one aim: to make work that can be reproduced multiple times – an ‘edition’ – in order to reach out to a wider audience.
Former Senior Lecturer and Course leader in Games Design at the University of Central Lancashire, Bev Bush, has worked extensively in the animation and games design industries with credits on BAFTA award-winning titles by Cosgrove Hall Films for Thames TV and on many published games by Traveller’s Tales. She is now enjoying the opportunity to explore her own creative work: “I find the printmaking class at Southport College ideal, not only to practice the various techniques involved, but also to experiment with mark-making and share ideas with talented artists in the group.”
Gill Whelan hadn’t picked up a paintbrush or done anything ‘arty’ since leaving school over 40 years ago. After taking early retirement 7 years ago and moving from Essex to the North West, she attended a variety of art classes and courses and has discovered a whole new world of creativity, making new friends along the way.
Gill enrolled on the printmaking course not really knowing what she had signed up for. Admitting that she had not heard of most of the techniques on offer, she confirms, “The teaching has been very good, the facilities are great and I’ve loved learning new skills alongside a group of very talented and creative people. I’ve particularly enjoyed learning to make collagraph prints and love playing and experimenting with different paint effects. I find it quite addictive and always want to do ‘just one more!’”
Retired secondary school Art teacher, Rose McNamara, also a recent newcomer to the area, who confesses to enjoying the vibrant art scene around Southport, got the bug following an earlier course: “The printing course at Southport College was a natural follow-up to a life drawing course from the year before. I hadn’t taught printing during my career so it has been a fascinating experience, covering many skills.”
Textile artist, Barbara Richardson, who spent the past 20 years sharing the love of her subject with primary age pupils, still found time to develop her own work. Now retired from education, Barbara from Southport specialises in mixed media and textiles with a particular interest in coastal environments and landforms. She has now extended this design approach into printing as a direct outcome of attending the printmaking course at Southport College: “It has been a really rewarding experience and I have enjoyed applying my creative sources through new media including etching, lino cut and screen printing.”
Proof that the art of printmaking is alive and well and here in Southport, this exhibition by ‘Printers Extraordinaire’ will be on display for 3 weeks at the ArtHouse, Eastbank Street, Southport from 18th April – 6th May 2023. The gallery is open Tuesday – Friday 10.00-15.00. Saturday 11.00-16.00.