SEACOURT PRINT WORKSHOP'S FIRST ETCHING PRESS
By Margaret Arthur
“From small acorns giant oak trees grow”
The Star Wheel press was not only the first etching press we had at Seacourt Print Workshop, but also the first etching press I ever used as a student at Belfast College of Art. At that time it was the only etching press there for many years so basically, was the etching department!
I was specialising in Fine Art, Painting and drawing with etching as a subsidiary subject. Afterwards I managed to get in to Brighton College of Art to study post graduate Printmaking and was amazed at all the presses and print facilities for all sorts of printmaking there.
Back in Belfast after a wonderful year there, I found the Art College, with print department, had moved to York St campus. The print department was bigger and better with David Barker as Head of Printmaking.
He suggested me having a solo exhibition with work done in Brighton in the Octagon Gallery Belfast in its Lisburn Rd venue. Jean Duncan was also involved in the Octagon so we all became friends over the years. David was also Jean’s tutor when she went back to college to study printmaking after many years of mainly painting. At the end of her year, Jean and I decided to get together and find somewhere to work on our prints, closer to home and our families. David was easily persuaded to help.
One of the many ways David helped us start up was to offer us an old press that was no longer being used, as they had much bigger presses by then. This was the Star Wheel Press on which I had learned basic etching years before! It was moved to our first home in the basement of Seacourt Teachers Centre in Bangor in 1981 on ‘permanent loan’!
It is still a lovely little press which works perfectly for small prints.
Along with another old lithography press put together by Roderick Duncan and adjusted for relief printing at that time, these two presses formed the basis of Seacourt Print workshop; which has grown from strength to strength; we are in our 40th year and our fourth home. We can now cater for lithography (on that same lithography press), etching, collagraph printing, screen printing, photo intaglio and digital prints. It has opened out to many more people in the community as well as our base of artist/ printmakers.
“From small acorns giant oak trees grow”.
Seacourt are hosting several events as part of creative peninsula 2022, including; family printmaking workshops, cyanotype, letterpress and much more..
Join Seacourt Print Workshop this Spring for a full programme of printmaking courses including screen printing, salt etch, traditional etching, mono printing and many more…
In spring 2021, Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive commissioned six artists from Seacourt Print Workshop in Bangor to make a creative response to With Heart and Hand, a UTV programme made in 1966 to commemorate the Battle of the Somme.
From left: Ken Sterrett (Chairperson), Margaret Arthur (Co-founder), Emma Drury (Director), Nathalie Caleyron (Member) and
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What is Printmaking?
Printmaking is a creative process used to transfer images from a matrix onto another surface, usually paper but sometimes linen, silk or glass. Many of our members run their own businesses selling their prints, bespoke clothing, jewellery and/or printed accessories.
This video gives an indication of the amount of work involved in creating each print. Traditional printmaking techniques include lithography, etching, aquatint, engraving and woodcut. However, over the last 100 years this has developed to include screen-printing and digital printmaking. Each print is designed, created and pressed by the artist with hours of thought, inspiration and experimentation. Each print is unique, which is reflected in the price point.
Historically, Printmaking is seen as a high art form, usually acquired by fine art collectors, and unaffordable to the general public. However, the 21st century saw a shift in the role of print, now acknowledged as having a public benefit; this can take the form of decorating homes and offices, being used as an educational resource for school students and professional artists or in recent years, the health benefits of printmaking have been acknowledged by community organisations and arts councils as being a vital part of their cultural framework.
Seacourt’s own art for wellbeing programme has offered community groups the opportunity to work with professional artists on creating a body of work featuring different printmaking techniques. We evaluate and monitor our participant wellbeing throughout the course of our workshops. With a recorded increase of 9–10-point increase in wellbeing score, following the programme, over the last 2 years.
The role of print is different for every individual, for some it is merely decorative, for others it is a lifeline. If you would like to find out more about our one-to-one workshops or community projects, then drop us a message.
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