Our weekly Open Studio ceramicists and printmakers join with Darlington-based The Press Gang to present their first group exhibition. Come and see an excellent selection of artwork produced over the last few months.
About the Ceramics Group:
We are a ceramics group of nine artists, that meet and work at Rural Arts in a creative “Open Studio” environment on Thursdays. There is a wide range of experience within the group and we share ideas and skills in order to improve our practice and develop our artistic direction. We create a variety of sculptures and functional items experimenting with different clays, hand building & slab building techniques, under-glazes and glazes. Our exhibition will showcase these pieces and the creative journey we have explored for the past 6 months.
About the Printmakers Group:
The group have been meeting fortnightly to share experience and develop work in the Rural Arts studio space. They come from a variety of backgrounds and printmaking interests that enables the group to be mutually supportive over a range of print processes.
About The Press Gang:
The Press Gang is an informal group of printmakers who meet once a month at The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts in Darlington. The group began life at The Arts Centre under the tuition of Geoff Morten and continued to run as a self-led group after he moved away. With the help and support of Bonnie Davies and her great team of volunteers the group moved to The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts when the Arts Centre was closed. New members with previous experience of etching have joined since then but the group can only accept new members with experience due to the nature of the process.
Etching is a printmaking technique that uses chemical action to produce incised lines in a metal printing plate which then hold the applied ink and form the image. The plate used is zinc, which is prepared with an acid-resistant ground. Lines are drawn through the ground, exposing the metal. The plate is then immersed in acid and the exposed metal is ‘bitten’, producing incised lines. Stronger acid and longer exposure produce more deeply bitten lines. The resist is removed and ink applied to the sunken lines, but wiped from the surface. The plate is then placed against paper and passed through a printing press with great pressure to transfer the ink from the recessed lines. Sometimes ink may be left on the plate surface to provide a background tone.
Etching was used for decorating metal from the fourteenth century, but was probably not used for printmaking much before the early sixteenth century. Since then many etching techniques have been developed, which are often used in conjunction with each other: soft-ground etching uses a non-drying resist or ground, to produce softer lines; spit bite involves painting or splashing acid onto the plate; open bite in which areas of the plate are exposed to acid with no resist.
Etching is a mysterious art form and every print is a revelation, remembering that what you see on the plate is in reverse to the finished print produces many surprise results!
Each member of The Press Gang has their own style and way of working. They are an eclectic bunch each taking their own source of inspiration from a variety of subjects including nature and the landscape to the purely abstract. There is no tuition the group members helping each other to overcome encountered difficulties.
The work in this exhibition includes a variety of techniques and has no specific theme. It illustrates the art of etching and printmaking in general and the variety of effects that can be achieved by individuals working together in a friendly and supportive group where there is no pressure to conform to a standard.
The Press Gang members are:
Janet Lord, Margaret McCord, Geoff Proudlock, Rachel Proudlock, Jill Welham,
Stephen Wiper, Heidi Turner, Jane Bamford, Sharon Lodey, Angela Hall