Making a mark: #PrintMonth at the RA
Get involved in printmaking this April
By Tom Jeffreys
Published 17 March 2014
Welcome to Print Month. This April we’re celebrating the versatile art of printmaking, with a packed programme of exhibitions, events and online activity.
Prints at the RA
We have a triple whammy of print-based exhibitions taking place here at the RA. Our focused exhibition of etchings and screenprints by Norman Stevens ARA runs until 25 May in the Tennant Gallery. This weekend saw the opening of Renaissance Impressions in the Sackler Galleries, a richly rewarding exploration of chiaroscuro woodcuts from the collections of George Baselitz and the Albertina Museum in Vienna. Then, at the end of the month, we’re delighted to welcome back the London Original Print Fair to the Main Galleries for its 29th year at the Royal Academy. With some 50 international exhibitors, the four-day show offers a wonderful opportunity to see and buy original prints, from the earliest Renaissance woodcuts to the latest editions by contemporary masters.
What is a print?
Before diving too deeply into the wide world of prints, it’s worth taking a moment to understand what an original print actually is. Fortunately, we have on hand Helen Rosslyn, director of the Fair, to explain some of the details of printmaking. In the video below she clarifies any occasionally confusing terminology – what difference does an edition size make? What’s the difference between a reproduction and an original print?
Beyond the RA
By coincidence, it’s not only here at the RA that printmaking is being celebrated this April. Dulwich Picture Gallery, the British Museum, and the National Gallery are all hosting exhibitions with a strong emphasis on prints. The Courtauld’s collection of some 20,000 prints is also available to visit by appointment. Meanwhile, Art on the Underground are holding a pop-up Print Shop in Piccadilly Circus station and Simon Oldfield is showing an exhibition of Andy Warhol prints. Pushing the medium to its limits are the collaborative works of Dieter Roth and Arnulf Rainer, on show throughout April at Hauser & Wirth on Savile Row, just round the corner from the RA. We’ll be taking a look at some of these shows right here on the RA blog over the next few weeks.
Learn to print
As well as viewing prints, you can also get involved directly and learn how to become a printmaker yourself. There are courses and workshops taking place across the city that cater to every skill level – from the complete novice to the more experienced printmaker looking to learn a new technique. Morley College, London Print Studio, and the Art Academy are all running courses of various length and price. Plus we'll be posting family-friendly downloadable guides to making your own prints at home.
Chris Orr RA
Chris Orr RA discusses the pros and cons of lithography, etching onto plastic, and the importance of drawing.
Stephen Chambers RA
Stephen Chambers RA on the fusion of the handmade and the computer-assisted.
Anne Desmet RA
Anne Desmet RA discusses her series of woodcut prints inspired by the London 2012 Olympics.
Coming up online
To celebrate this wealth of activity, and the diversity of printmaking techniques, we’ll be publishing a host of content here on our new website over the next few weeks. We’ll be exploring the history of prints at the RA; picking out highlights from our Collection; highlighting the innovative prints being produced in the RA Schools (especially in the cutting edge Epson digital suite); taking you through the collaborative process behind RA Editions; and foregrounding the work of our Printmaker Academicians. We’ve already spent time in the studio discussing process and practice with Norman Ackroyd RA, Stephen Chambers RA, Chris Orr RA, and Grayson Perry RA. All of this material can easily be found under the Print Month tag.
Alongside a wealth of articles, image stories and videos, we’re encouraging everyone to get involved via social media. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, we’ll be sharing print-related material throughout the coming weeks, using the hashtag #PrintMonth. Feel free to share your favourite prints and printmakers, or ask us any print-related questions you might have. We’ll be sure to speak to one of our printmaking experts here at the RA and get back to you with the best answer we can.
So start the presses! Print Month is on its way.
Renaissance Impressions is in the Sackler Galleries until 8 June 2014.
Norman Stevens ARA is in the Tennant Gallery until 25 May 2014.
London Original Print Fair is in the Main Galleries, 24 - 27 April 2014.