Printmakers Open 2019, 7/2/2019-27/2/2019

The main art event this winter at the Town Mill Galleries in Lyme Regis will be the hosting of a fourth Printmakers Open, running from 7-27 February. The success of the previous Opens, in which over 40 printmakers from the South West took part, encouraged an expansion into a second gallery last year.

Both galleries will once again be showcasing the full gamut of printmaking techniques and subject matter in 2019, and for all lovers of printmaking, a visit to the Malthouse and Courtyard Galleries in February will be an essential date for your diary.

Sue Lowe – What Remains II, monotype

Open daily 10.30-4.30; free admission.

Read an article from Dorset Magazine here (PDF file).

More about some of the techniques

As anyone who’s ever tried it knows, printmaking is a highly skilful art form that offers its practitioners numerous ways of working, from the exceedingly detailed and time consuming to the immediate and serendipitous. And whichever process is used, the resulting image will be very distinct from what drawing or painting alone can achieve.

Of the many processes on display, there will certainly be some monotypes.  These are created by drawing or painting directly onto a rigid plate, and then transferring the wet image onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together (using a printing press or, as I have, the back of a wooden spoon). Having absorbed the applied picture, the resulting paper print, like Anita Reynolds’s atmospheric Low Man II, is unique.

Anita Reynolds- Low Man II

Pretty much the reverse of each other are relief and intaglio prints.  Relief prints are ones where you cut into the surface plate to rid it of the areas you don’t want to appear in the print and ink the remaining surface, transferring it onto paper using pressure. This technique produces bold graphic monochrome woodcuts like Carolyn King’s La Glace and vivid polychromatic linocuts like Liz Somerville’s The Land of Nodd, which was hand-coloured after one pressing.

Liz Somerville – The Land of Nodd, linocut

By scratching lines into the solid plate, inking the whole surface and then wiping the surface ink off, you are left with ink only in the ‘lines’ and this is an intaglio print, as is Paula Youens’s Silent Orchard, in which Paula has used laminated paper as the plate which she has scored, cut and peeled to create the image. Etchings, drypoint and engravings are all types of intaglio printing.

Richard Kaye and Terry Jeavons are two of the printmakers whose work at the Open will be represented by screenprints.  In this technique, there is no direct contact of plate and paper, but rather a screen mesh intervenes and inks are ‘squeegeed’ in layers through the mesh unless stopped by stencils, paper or liquids that block off areas. Terry’s ‘Thameside’ prints used his own photographs as a starting point, and, similarly architectural, Richard Kaye’s hand-tinted screen prints focus on bold silhouettes against the sky.

Richard Kaye – Waterloo Station, screenprint

Printmakers are keen to point out that a print is not a Xerox copy, for even when you re-use a plate to make subsequent versions, each ‘print’ is original, because each one will be different due to variables in the hands-on process of printmaking (e.g. the mixing and application of inks, the wiping off of surfaces, or colours added by hand only after the impression is made.)  While making prints, one also has to remember that in most cases, as visible in the photo of Paula Youens’s drypoint Hilltop Farm, the image worked on the plate will be printed in reverse…which keeps printmakers on their toes!

If these images have stirred an interest in printmaking, you might want to consider a workshop or course at Double Elephant in Exeter (check them out on www.doubleelephant.org.uk) and of course do visit the exhibition!