The Printmakers Council was formed in 1965 a group of artists including Julian Trevelyan, Michael Rothenstein, Anthony Gross, Stanley Jones and Agatha Sorel who saw the need for a society that would promote new developments within printmaking. Since then it has consistently promoted the place of printmaking in the visual arts. More about the history of the Printmakers Council here
In 2017 the Council invited artist printmakers to submit works for the Print City and Mini Print exhibitions which opened on November at the Morley Gallery in Lambeth London. The exhibits showed the breadth of UK printmaking including silkscreen, etching, linocut, lithography, solar and plastic engraving. I submitted a mini print (19×19) of an inkjet print on pastel paper – Welsh Bowl with Mermaids Purse, Sheep’s Wool and Rabbits Tail. The Mini Prints are a portfolio that will be held by the V&A Print Collection. I met Michael Pritchard from Staffordshire who had his digital prints in the city exhibition that sat alongside plastic engravings by Louise Hayward and Guy Butters Underground Surveillance that hung in on of the windows which are included in the slide how of iPhone pictures from the opening night.
The gallery is nearby The Imperial War Museum which was particularly dramatic that night with a bright moon low in the sky.
I dropped by the IPS ( International Production Space in Birmingham School of Art) that flowed from pieces from Bahrain Artists presented by the Bahrain based Ulafaa Initiative in the foyer. It is a rewarding show with insights into how young artists are making their voices seen and heard locally and internationally. I asked the curator Tamadher AlFahal about the show’s origins and she invited me to the talk she was presenting (as part of her PHD) that evening and an open invite to a further panel discussion about the cultural production of the Arab Gulf that is happening on the 19th @ 5pm in the IPS :’AS NOTED/UNNOTICED’ a part of “I AM KHALEEJI”; a series of events and happenings that offers prelude to the contemporary art scene of the Arab Gulf.
From the discussions it is clear the art scene “within the Arab Gulf (or GCC) has been through a state of flux. Typically exposed to Western audiences, and the greater art world, as a strongly diluted stereotypical image of the Middle East. The Arab Gulf’s distinctive art identity remains undervalued.
This project addresses the misconceptions of the contemporary art scene in the Gulf, it offers an alternative view that is diverse, unique and vernacular in attempt to understand its complexity and dynamics. Specifically focusing on shedding light on the Gulf art scene as a distinctive voice within the Middle East. “
Issues of identity, religion, gender are clear in the work on show, but the range of video, photography, graphic and printed artworks are strong in their own right. There are plays with sign posts (literally) and the two photographic/print based pieces – The rise of Maliha @ecstasybash and My Ghutra is Me @stefanistan deal directly with issues of personal image and identity in clever, creative and insightful ways. ‘Maliha : a Name meaning having beauty, kindness and strength’ and ‘Ghutra’ the traditional male headress and as one of the subjects told the artist : ‘the eyes are the window on the soul, but first tell me how you wear your ghutra and I will tell you who you are……’ Both pieces are portrait based although the whole portrait is not shown in either works.
@ecstasybash’ instagram bio is understated : “Photographer , Slightly Artistic, mildly photographic”. Her website also provides further insight into the inspirations for The rise of Maliha.
The show is also referred to By the Book @ulafaa
About the Speakers for the upcoming panel on the 19th October:
Khulod Albugami is an artist and an academic member at the College of Art & Design, Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University in Saudi Arabia since 2011. She is currently doing her PhD in Fine Art at Birmingham City University, UK. In her research, she investigates the possibility to formulate different approaches, where art and spatial practices can be used for social empowerment by women in Saudi Arabia. Her main area of interest and research are cultural production in Saudi Arabia and its impacts on creative spaces made by women.
Quentin de Pimodan works as an analyst at Katch & Reyners, a public affairs agency. He studied engineering in Paris and then for several years worked for a French publishing house that aims at explaining national and international administrations to young audiences. He spent a year in Yemen in 2008 and was based in Bahrain for two years in 2014 where he co-authored “The Khaleej Voice”, a six books series documenting the urban artists in the six countries composing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He also contributes to Greece-based think-tank, the Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS), with a particular focus on Iraq.
Amal Khalaf is the Assistant Curator of the Serpentine Gallery’s Edgeware Road Project, an international residency and site-specific research programme based in the Edgeware Road neighbourhood of London. Amal curatorial and research activities address themes of urbanism, community media activism and art through participatory projects and media initiatives. In her work as a researcher and curator, she has been involved in collaborative programming with artists and community groups in London and Cairo, in addition to running activities ranging from screenings, performances, seminar series and conferences. Previously, she worked at Gasworks, London, the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo and Al Riwaq Gallery, Bahrain, as well as co-founding Hold and Freight, London, a project space based in an abandoned Victorian railway arch. Khalaf is also a Research Associate with the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, co-authoring a book on moving image in public space.
Anthony Downey is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa within the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University. Recent publications include Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a bullet: The Works of Hiwa K (Walther König Books, 2017); Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East (Sternberg Press, 2016); Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2015); and Art and Politics Now (Thames and Hudson, 2014).
Tamadher AlFahal is a Designer, TEDx Speaker and Co-founder of Ulafa’a Initiative; a reconciliation-through-the-arts project. Her practice extends from community art projects to installations. She sheds light on areas of cultural conflicts and religious misconceptions influenced by her upbringing in the Arab world. She also co-founded Beige and Teal with artist Leon D., a creative platform for art and design that celebrates social and cultural narratives of Bahrain. Her main areas of interest are cultural identity, art collaboration and the creative process. Tamadher is currently doing her PhD in Birmingham City University, UK where she investigates philosophical approaches in contemporary Islamic design studies.
Museum of the Moon is a new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram.
Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface.
Moon Story, Drawing and social media.
The original drawing was begun when the artist visited the Museum of the Moon exhibition and spotted a ‘moonlight’ in the corner in the dark expanse housing Luke Jerram’s massive moon. On a closer view the moonlight was a table lamp beamed on a book being read by Steve to an entranced family. The illuminated reader and family provided a strong composition to base a drawing on. The artist took iPhone pictures, transferred them to an iPad, into adobe procreate and using an apple pencil the drawing was created through a number of states. An early version was posted. on Instagram channel where Museum Manager Jessica spotted it, showed it to Steve who was surprised and impressed. Jess used Instagram to contact the Artist to let him know Steve would like a copy if possible.
Once the drawing was finished proofs were made on a high quality Cannon inkjet printer on to a range of papers before an edition of 5 were printed on 300 gsm aquarelle off white paper. Two months on from the Saturday encounter in the Museum of the Moon the 2nd print of the edition was presented to Steve who along with Jessica enjoyed seeing the mounted fine print. Of course it quickly appeared on the @thinktankmuseum feed.
On leaving the School of Art in Birmingham’s historic city centre I noticed a plaque to my right that had escaped my notice on the many occasions I have descended the stairs down to Margaret street. The municipal history of the building is there for all to see in the ornate gold stone carved type : “This Building was erected by the Corporation of Birmingham for use as a School of Art, upon land given for that purpose by Grecoe Collmore Esq with funds contributed by Miss Louisea Anne Ryland and MESSers Richard and George Tangyea 1884.”
As I ruminated on the age of municipal and philanthropic value of the Arts to Birmingham, I crossed to the Waterhall gallery, a part of an equally cultured contribution to Birmingham’s proud city centre – The Museum and Art Gallery.
Sitting on the steps was Pete James the curator of Matt Collingshaw’s Thresholds. Pete is a mine off knowledge and information on the unique role Birmingham and its scientists and artisans played in the invention of photography. Thresholds captures the amazing moment Fox Talbot made his first Photogenic Drawings in King Edwards School. He and Matt have recreated the space he displayed his first pictures:
Behind the large wooden box in the gallery is a white space with a few empty white cases and tables. A number of people walk around the space with an electronic backpack and headset seemingly seeing and touching invisible objects. I was kitted up with the gear by the gallery assistants and encouraged to venture into the space. I was immediately ensconced in a 1830’s room with wooden ceilings, paintings, candle chandeliers and Talbot’s first photogenic drawings. Astonishing in their lifelike quality as one moved around them. Even more surprising was the ability to see a cloudy white version of your hand hovering above a picture, which when you turn your hand towards you, appears in front of you to inspect more closely. This is virtual reality. What would Talbot have thought about this when he first showed his photogenic drawings to amazed friends, students, teachers and scientists? How image making has developed in 200 years, from Birmingham New Street’s School. The school was demolished in the mid 1800’s and rebuilt as King Edwards opposite another gallery the Barber Institute.
Speaking to Pete I enquired when the term photography was applied to describe this process of capturing images with light. He clarified my question by saying Fox Talbot and Herschel used the word photography to describe the process whereas Talbot used the Photogenic drawing description to describe the objects of the process. There is much more information in the exhibition, including Stereo images of the original room, the King Edwards building and a film by Ravi Deepres and Michael Clifford on the Camera Obscura.
The show is only on for a couple more days in Birmingham before it begins its journey from the birthplace of photography to its next venue Laycock Abbey.
Go see it if you can. If you can’t, here’s a good illustrative film :
Had whistle stop tour round the BP Portrait Awards 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery.
Many great works including the Tavel Show winner. New and old techniques inc egg tempera for EMMA by Antony Williams. Daniel Coves picture was a departure for him as he usually paints the back of his subjects. However for this show he painted Blind Portrait facing forward. I have captured visitors backs as they look at the arresting/moving blind portrait.
Brian Sayers portrait met his needs to capture “the type of features he likes to portray” . This something we tend to forget. i.e. A portrait is also a reflection of the artist’s desire as well as the character of the sitter.
Opening night and the front of house debrief and prep for the Private view introduced by Dr Ellen Mcadam the Director of the Museum and Art Gallery and the High Sheriff of the West Midlands 2017 John Hudson OBE DL.
Before the speeches there was much networking and chatting to do. It seemed that the star of the show was Lara Ratnaraja’s Mother who had been excited about the event since Lara invited her as her +1. At every turn she was posing with another guest.
When we launched the exhibition Dr Mcadam gave a warm welcome to the Shrieval gathering and the growing positive relationship between the West Midlands Shrievalty and the the Museum Trust as they both have historic value to the city and region. She was also vey happy to encourage the purchasing of prints from the show as all proceeds will go to supporting the Museum Trust. John Hudson gave a very warm welcome to the assembled audience and a brief insight into the role of the shrievalty in England and in the West Midlands. He pointed out that he was surprised to meet someone as well turned out as himself in black and silver. He was of course referring to Phil Hawkins from Hodge Hill who has a portrait in the exhibition as a worthy winner of the Bromford Estate local heroes.
We concluded with an acknowledgment that there had been another historic event the previous week – the election of the first ever Metro Mayor for the West Midlands – Mr Andy Street CBE – and that Mayor Street had made the time to attend the opening and come see his portrait. So we all joined him and went through the curtains to Gallery 16.
Pictures were being sold with all proceeds being donated to the Birmingham Museums Trust.
There waere not many opportunities for visitors to get back from the walls to see the portraits in their ordered lines, however groupings gathered around pictures to cast judgement -all very positive. To see the portraits click the gallery below or actually go to Gallery 16 in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
May 10 th arrives and the 30 Printed Portraits will be revealed to all and those who feature on the walls of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
In the morning I was attending to final details including briefing the wonderful front of house team and remaking the nameplates with larger type and a Shrieval coat of arms. A gentleman came into the space and after a while focussing on the pictures I asked what he thought. He had seen the exhibition advertised on the BMAG Whats on listings and had travelled in especially from Telford in Shropshire to see it.
We talked about the how he is semi retired and visits galleries near and far to get a sense of artists work close up. We discussed portraits, photography, art before taking a picture of each other. He asked if he could take my picture in front of the Portrait of Eileen Wright as it is his favourite because of the ‘glint in her eye at her age’, as well as the big buttons on the phone she used to take he 97th birthday call.
Mike had been to the TATE in Liverpool to see the Rossetti Monna Vanna portrait and had taken a celebratory picture. I pointed out that next door in Gallery 17 is a beautiful picture by Rossetti of Beatrix. He thanked me and went to see it, quickly returning with glee and after one last tour of the portraits made his comment in the book.
As the normal viewing day came to a close a group of women came into Gallery 16. They viewed the portraits with interest and consideration, sharing their views to each other about the portraits and the subjects. They enthusiastically reflected, and nominated their top three! Top of their favourites was Eileen Wright.
I heard later that evening at the private view that as they left the Museum they met Eileen’s daughter and husband on the gallery entrance doorsteps and eulogised about the portrait exhibition and in particular the one of the older lady making her birthday phone call. Wonderful
My twosome, double up 4 colour silkscreen has been included on the ON PAPER artists submissions site.
ON PAPER is a project to promote the art of printmaking and develop connections between printmakers around the world. It is based in Barcelona and run by an art association with Nuria Melero as a main organiser.
ON PAPER contest : 3rd ANNUAL ‘ON PAPER’ INTERNATIONAL PRINTMAKING AWARD 2017
The shortlisted artists for the On PAPER Award 2017 will be exhibited in The Chicago Printmaking Collaborative, Chicago USA, from July 8th – August 31st 2017. More information here :