I’ve been meaning to write about this visit for some time, it was our (myself and my husbands) first visit to The Hepworth Wakefield gallery and first time at a fair dedicated to printmaking. I will admit two things to begin with, firstly that I had never seen any work by the famous sculptor Barbara Hepworth prior to the visit. Secondly that I was not prepared for the somewhat dismal day we arrived at the gallery. Anyway we had intended to come see the print fair and to hear Printmaker Angie Lewin in Conversation with Senior Curator of Prints at the V&A, Gill Saunders.
The Print Fair took place within the recently refurbished Calder buildings (see photo on the left). It was utterly ram packed with exhibitors and prints of a vast variety. Initially I was visually overwhelmed so to speak. Where to begin in a sea of prints!! So we took our time, returned to stalls we were intrigued by, spoke to exhibitors who were friendly enough to answer our questions. And we returned home the proud owners of genuine art prints.
I feel slightly annoyed with myself for not taking any photos once inside the print fair, but I’ll admit anxiety wise I was fairly overwhelmed with just taking in my surroundings. So rather than try and describe every stall, I’ll talk about the people who were willing to share their expertise with me and whose work we purchased.
Pica Editions – was the first stand I wanted to spend time gazing at. I was drawn initially by their screenprints; namely their Basic Crop Rotation Print, I loved their use of colour and texture in the print. But as I looked more closely at their stall I was drawn to a smaller print, this time a risograph print of a charcoal sketch.
There is something so free and beautiful about this print. The unapologetic use of charcoal or pencil markings, in a really fluid way which I’ve not really seen before. I love the texture of the marks and the sense that they could be describing a landscape real or imaginary. I was surprised by how much I liked this print, as I’m normally drawn to more colourful images. I spent some time chatting with Clare Findon, one half of the duo (the other is Jack Shaw) who comprise Pica Editions. Just asking about the piece and the process and was really grateful for her open conversation. Again for some reason I hadn’t expected people to be so friendly and willing to discuss their work.
Robert Battams work was another revelation for me. His work was abstract and textural, with elements of urban landscape or found papers. A real mixture of ideas and images all jostling together to create prints. Dan and I spent some time just looking at his work and asking each other what we saw in it before I finally plucked up the courage to say I saw some repeating elements in his prints. This led to a really fascinating conversation about his process and visual ideas which he consciously and subconsciously keeps exploring through his work.
I noticed some of his work looked like Collagraph Prints, an area of Printmaking I really struggled to use in my first year module of Printmaking. So I asked him how he approached it. He was really kind, taking the time to show me some of his Collagraph plates (he’d brought a few with him). Here’s what I remember were his recommendations; don’t over ink the plate, use linseed oil to thin the ink down for application. He recommended using a tightly rolled softer fabric held by an elastic band, to wipe the surface of the plate. Essentially he said the more ink there was on the plate the more the finer details would be lost in the print.
The image opposite is slightly obscured by the fact the protective film is still over the screen print. But I don’t want to do anything to damage the print whilst we search for a frame for it! Dan and I were instantly drawn to this print, firstly just the uniqueness of an image within a silhouette shape. Secondly the detail and warmth of the image appealed to us. I did a little research into the Artist, Andrew Magee, to be honest I’m not massively taken by his other work. He tends to work with quite dark theme’s, which was a bit off putting. But I still really love this print and think it will work really well in our living room.
Final comments/observations from the day are some scans of artists information leaflets or business cards that I took home with me. I keep these sorts of things partly to help me remember artists whose work I admired, and also as examples of different approaches to branding yourself/products as an Artist.
I like elements of each of the artist information leaflets pictured left. I think perhaps most effective in a small space is the small James Green Print Works business card. It has an example of his work on the front and then on the back has details of his business, the kind of works he makes, and details such as email, mobile, shop, blog and Facebook. I think whilst it’s not the most unique or creative approach it gets the right kind of information across to people. I guess that’s the main point. It’s helpful for me to see these for ideas for my own branding or business cards. For a fun/unique approach I like the Pica Editions leaflet which looks like an off cut of paper which they’ve simply printed their name and website on.
These two examples are more information heavy, rather than branding. They contain detailed information about the organisations they represent. The Print Club Bristol leaflet is really thorough and contains some fun explanations of printing methods and techniques available. The Society of Wood Engravers is much more sophisticated/paired back. I think it suggests the society is maybe aimed at an older audience and those with a serious interest in engraving and wood cut printing.
I will collect my thoughts about Angie Lewin in conversation with Gill Saunders in another post!!