Modern Makers: Visit to Edinburgh printmakers


Blog post written by Emily Tough

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Day trip to Edinburgh

For starts the sun was shining, which will forever make things feel nicer. We all assembled ourselves at The Gracefield to be transported to Lockerbie train station, and then by train to Edinburgh. It was an easy ten minutes’ walk from the station to The Edinburgh Printmakers. It is a grand red brick building notably built during the industrial revolution.
After having a cheery coffee in the printmakers café, we were introduced to a nice lady who then took us on a tour of the building.

The building used to be the North British Rubber Factory, who provided the British Empire with most of its rubber. A fire in 1969 disbanded the factory and in the 70’s it became a brewery. Which then closed in 2004, left for abandonment until the Edinburgh Printmakers took over the building in. The Edinburgh Printmakers themselves have been around since 1967. The building was in quite a large state of disrepair when the printmakers moved into its large rooms, which opened earlier this year. The building is comprised of interesting building techniques, largely rubber based! So, it was important that they preserved as much of it as possible. There are columns and tiles that are made from volcanized rubber, which looks surprisingly like marble. As well as specialised plastered tiles, you can see where they have carefully taken the tiles out to remove mould and then reassembled them back in, which gives the walls a very cool crackled effect.

We were told a little how the Printmakers runs, and what are their main aims; giving artists a continued excess to the art industry, renting out affordable studio spaces, connecting artists in the region, whilst providing access to quality printing methods and studios.

We met with Alistair Clarke, one of the core members of the Printmakers. He gave a little talk about what printing meant to him. I felt especially impassioned by his thoughts on using printmaking as a good foundation of experiment, as this is how I’ve been orientating my work throughout the Modern Makers course.
We were shown some examples of some of the work made in the studios, a few of which, despite our intensive few months of printmaking education, we had not seen before. We were all particularly impressed by the Stone Lithography, which the Edinburgh Printmakers are particularly renowned for. I also had a thought to try use mdf instead of lino to create a relief print after seeing it being used there.

The studios are beautiful; light bright and airy, full of large tropical plants to clear the air of the printing toxins. The room is divided into printing sections: lithography, screen-prints, relief-prints and etching. All inks are carefully marked up, as are the different acids and cleaning products, it is evident everyone in the studios takes great care to look after the environment. One or two people were making work in there as we passed through, I stopped and had a chat to a woman who was just inking up acetate to make a lithograph of a field of poppies.

We were fortunate to coincide our visit with their exhibition A Machine for Making Authenticity, which showcased some of the new work made in the printmakers studios. This exhibition was curated to celebrate the buildings recent change from mass production into handmade artwork. I was also very taken by their accompanying exhibition by Hanna Tuulikki, who explored the concept of masculinity in cultures through the imagery of deer.

The sandwiches from the café were also very good.

 Thank you to Upland for providing us with such a wonderful experience. It is with sadness that we come to an end of our modern makers course, however each of us has learnt a lot and we are now eager to see how our art careers develop.