Photography as the print maker’s sketchbook

The mechanics of centuries-old traditional printing and even the most technologically advanced photography, as artist Sumi Perera points out, are vastly more similar than we may first imagine.

Chris Mercier, Articulate, Woven on Jacquard Loom, silk and cotton
Chris Mercier, Articulate, Woven on Jacquard Loom, silk and cotton

‘Photography is almost the process of art thinking backwards’, she says. ‘You have the negative, but you have to think of the positive mirror image that forms the final product. It’s the same with printmaking.’

Edward Adlington,  photo etching
Edward Adlington, photo etching

Perera has curated the Photographics exhibition opening this week at London’s Great Western Studios, which will be showing 26 works created using both photography and printmaking.

Michael Kennedy, Chance Encounter, linocut and stencil with printed photo-collage additions
Michael Kennedy, Chance Encounter, linocut and stencil with printed photo-collage additions

With the exception of three artists, all participants in the show are members of the Printmakers Council, an organisation formed in 1965 that works to promote the place of printmaking in the visual arts.

Nicola Styan, Night Time 20/02/13., screen print
Nicola Styan, Night Time 20/02/13., screen print

The three non-Printmakers Council artists in the exhibition are invited artists Lidija Antanasijevic, Rachel Owen and woodcutter Anne Desmet RA, who Perera says is only the third wood engraver to be elected into the Royal Academy.

Lidija Antanasijevic, The Outsider, Colour photogravure, perspex, light
Lidija Antanasijevic, The Outsider, Colour photogravure, perspex, light

Perera, herself a member of the Printmakers Council, says that the works featured in the exhibition aim to show a broad range of techniques, ranging from traditional woodcut prints and etchings to solar plate works, digital pieces and photo collage.

Sumi Perera RE, Shattering the Glass Ceiling (for the Freud Museum), etching, aquatint, incision and stitch
Sumi Perera RE, Shattering the Glass Ceiling (for the Freud Museum), etching, aquatint, incision and stitch

She says, ‘I selected pieces that defy the normal conventions of printmaking. It exists in so many variable permutations, and I tried to choose artists from lots of different places using lots of different methods.’

She adds, ‘The artists use photography almost like a sketchbook. People can [use photographs] to bring an idea home with them and work in their own space on whatever it is that they saw.’

Sally Grumbridge, Beijing Bride, hand coloured photo-etchings
Sally Grumbridge, Beijing Bride, hand coloured photo-etchings

Photographics runs from 22 – 26 March at Great Western Studios, 65 Alfred Road, London W2

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