The National Original Print Exhibition 2017 runs from 20th September to 1 October 2017 at Bankside Gallery on London’s South Bank. The exhibition seeks to show the best in contemporary printmaking, and is run by the RE, the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers. At Jackson’s we have been looking forward to the show for several months, so with the exhibition opening this week, we spoke to two of the selectors, Trevor Price (Vice President of the RE) and Mychael Barratt (President of the RE), about the make-up of the exhibition and the picture it gives of contemporary printmaking.
Duncan Montgomery: Hi Mychael, thanks for talking to us about NOPE. Were there any entries (or entrants) that particularly stood out for you or were especially to your taste?
Mychael Barratt: Every year there is an abundance of works that particularly stand out. The scale and exact techniques are not always apparent from digital files so there is a proper delight in receiving the physical entries. One in particular that struck me was by a large monochromatic linocut called An Offer of Love, which is a collaborative work by Ade Adesina and June Carey. The detail and level of work that has gone into this piece is breathtaking. There was another collaborative landscape by a group called Pine Feroda that is equally monumental. I also was very struck by Paint the Town Red by Heather Meyerratken which is of a street scene in Havana. It is printed on wire mesh, which is a technique that I have never seen before.
DM: Were there any prevailing themes amongst the entries, or amongst the selected works?
MB: When we are judging, we often notice a prevailing theme in the entries but that does not necessarily correspond to the work that makes it to the walls of the exhibition. Some curious zeitgeist affects artists so that one year, I remember that there were a huge number of entries containing crows. Another year it was skulls. I’m not sure if any crows or skulls were actually selected, however…
DM: What is the balance like between traditional and innovative or experimental printmaking in this year’s show?
MB: Very interesting question. I’ve taken a proper look at the show with this question in mind and I honestly think that it’s 50/50 between traditional and innovative. I also have no preference between the two. What I find really exciting is when artists use conventional techniques to create offbeat pieces. One artist has used conventional printmaking but printed on torn off hardcover book jackets to create one-off pieces. Another artist printed silkscreens onto a ceramic cube while yet another wrapped his print around a lampshade. Always some surprises!
Louise Davies, ‘Shadows on the Moors’ (Etching and collagraph).
DM: Hi Trevor, thanks for taking the time to chat to us about the National Original Print Exhibition 2017. How do you deal with the pressures of being a selector? I imagine it must be a very difficult process.
Trevor Price: Selecting for the National Original Print Exhibition was a hugely positive but exhausting time. I saw a lot of high quality printmaking and the resulting exhibition shows printmaking to be in a very good place at the moment.
DM: If you had to pick one work from the exhibition for your own collection, what would it be?
TP: There is more than one I would like to take home for my personal collection. However if I had to choose just one it would be Liz Miller’s intaglio print that included inking up an old vinyl record. The resulting image [shown above] felt like an an abstracted music score.
The National Original Print Exhibition 2017 runs from 20th September to 1 October at Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH.
The image at the top of this article is ‘White Vans on the M4’, a wood engraving by Sally Hands.