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SEACOURT PRINT WORKSHOP'S FIRST ETCHING PRESS

By Margaret Arthur

(Co-Founder)

“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.

Seacourt Print Workshop First Printing Press

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”.