In September, five UWE Bristol graduates and five Spike Print Studio members enrolled onto the newly founded SPS/UWE scholarship, an initiative designed by the organisations to enable artists to further their printmaking practice.
Next month, the scholars will present their work in a unique, multidisciplinary exhibition, Print-centric, opening on July 12 at UWE’s Bower Ashton campus.
Spike Print Studio (SPS) is one of the UK’s largest open-access print studios, offering the public vital facilities and education. Working with UWE, SPS founded the scholarship to create artistic opportunity through widened access to facilities and exposure to supportive collaboration.
While recent grads were given a chance to continue their practice at the established SPS, professionals were offered entry into UWE work-spaces. This has encouraged the usually separate parties to develop their methods collaboratively.
“The idea behind it all was that there would be that opportunity to network, and for there to be a cross-pollination between the parties and organisations involved,” Amy Hutchings explains.
“None of us really knew each other before. The scholarship has formed friendships and connections between us. Doing the exhibition is a really important part of it. It’s one way of looking back at what we have done personally, but also collectively.”
The group agrees that the scholarship has pushed their artistic practice, experimentation with the printmaking medium, and allowed the SPS members to break away from habit. Importantly, it has posited an essential and accessible boost for graduates, enabling them to continue their work in the city, while soft-launching them into the professional art world.
The exhibition, which will run throughout July, focuses on printmaking, tying together an array of artistic specialisms including illustration, enamel work, etching, monoprint and graphic design.
The scholars stress the revolutionary nature of printmaking, and how its versatility makes it a playground for serendipitous design and engaging presentation:
“Printmaking is so versatile. Using digital and traditional technologies, we have taken different skills and merged them together to create new work,” Hannah McVicar tells Bristol24/7.
“For me, printmaking is something you can’t really control. You can do as much as you want, but when you print the final piece, it comes out completely different.”
“I think it’s the best medium for happy accidents,” Ruth Ander adds. “It’s also a democratic medium. It’s work on paper which doesn’t have to be viewed on a gallery wall; it can be viewed in all sorts of ways. It’s a synthetic way to view art.”
The group believes the exhibition will be a holistic reflection of their diverse personalities, merged naturally through the craftsmanship of printmaking. They hope the very curation of the space will become an artwork in itself.
Amy adds: “I think it’s going to be a really innovative show. We’ve all got different themes and inspirations, but there’s something about the printmaking process that unifies them. It will be a really exciting show.”
The cross-genre of work on display will be recently produced, following a contemporary and experimental dynamic, with mark-making and texture underpinning the art.
To see the scholars’ artwork, visit the F Block Gallery of the UWE Bower Ashton Studios via reception from July 12 to 31, open daily from 9am-5 pm.