We caught up with selector Mychael Barratt, President of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, to find out about the process that goes into choosing works for the National Original Print Exhibition 2018 at Bankside which champions contemporary printmaking. You can find out details about the show and see a few selected works by viewing our earlier blogpost here.
Tegen: Hi Mychael, thank you for taking the time to speak to us about NOPE, would you be able to explain to us the judging process and your particular criteria for successful entries?
Mychael: The judging takes place about two months before the exhibition opens. The five judges got together for a very long day of looking at digital submissions in a darkened room. Each work is viewed separately and gets in solely on its merit by means of a majority vote from the panel. There is no specific criteria beyond selecting works that will add something to the overall exhibition and help to promote original printmaking to the audience who come along to Bankside Gallery.
Tegen: Do you find that each year you notice new trends in the work that gets submitted and if so what trends have you found the most interesting?
Mychael: There are always subject matters that seem to be oddly prevalent each year. One year we saw an incredibly large number of skulls and another year it was crows. As for trends, we noted a resurgence of both traditional techniques and very large scale works this year and there was also a huge number of black and white submissions. We also had our first inclusions of works made with 3D printers, which was very interesting.
Tegen: If you had to pick out a few works for your own personal collection which would they be and why?
Mychael: Works that I would choose for my own collection would definitely be done on pure gut instincts. There are two works by Katherine Jones and one by Julie Leach that I would find very tempting. Although there are many very large works in the show (one by Kristina Chan was so big that it took five people to hang it!) there are also a number of extremely small works that I loved and I would probably go for a cluster of these if I were purchasing from the exhibition.
Tegen: Where do you see contemporary printmaking going and are there any works that epitomise this for you?
Mychael: Contemporary printmaking is struggling to keep a foothold in university programmes but is remarkably healthy in the actual art world. Galleries are showing more and more original prints and cooperative studios are thriving. The large scale of original prints is quite a shift as is epitomised by a couple of the prize winners Julie Dean and Ade Adesina.
Tegen: Do you feel that being part of the selection committee affects your personal practice and do you think what you’re doing in your own work affects how you see the entries?
Mychael: I try to never let my own tastes and practices dictate my choices. I have personally often voted for works that were hugely impressive but not at all my taste. I always come away with at least one techniques that I want to try out so the exhibition is very useful in that context!
The top image is: The View After the Questions by Ade Adesina