Image: ‘Kuuli’ woodcut 110 x 150 cm by Annette Kierulf
If you needed evidence that the art of printmaking is in rude health, then look no further than the International Print Biennale. The event returns for the fourth time from Friday 16th September until Sunday 30th October, with exhibitions, events and activities taking place in 25 venues across the region.
As ever, the heart of the Biennale is the Print Awards. Selected works from the 31 international, innovative artists nominated will be on display at Northern Print, Vane and Gallery North, showing off the diversity of contemporary printmaking. If that wasn’t monumental enough, there’s also the chance to see the world’s longest linocut at Newcastle’s City Library. Made to celebrate teamwork for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, it measures a whopping 33 metres. In stark contrast, The Biscuit Factory will be showing off 150 prints measuring no more than 100mm².
Elsewhere, there’s plenty of opportunity to marvel in the variety of styles used within modern prints. At the City Library, Ellen Heck explores the relationship between identity and clothes through a series of artworks depicting a number of girls in costume during a children’s production of Alice in Wonderland. Nick Christie’s intricate works at Vane contemplate our shifting modes of communication, from pen and paper to smart phones and tablets while Norwegian artists Annette and Caroline Kierulf use explore woodcuts to explore technology, economy, consumerism and the environment at Great North Museum: Hancock. Tina Webb’s innovative screen printing technique of ‘meagre printing’ is being showcased at the National Glass Centre, celebrating artists that have inspired Webb personally. Even printmaking pioneer Birgit Skiöld is displaying new works at the South Shields Museum & Art Gallery, which have been inspired by journeys to Japan.
Many of this year’s exhibitions are inspired by locations in the North East and our everyday lives
At The Customs House, Stephen Livingstone and Cat Hardwick have been working with traditional wooden boat builders at the North East Maritime Trust to make a site-specific piece for the Trust, as well as an intense life-sized installation within the gallery. At Sunderland’s Priestman Gallery, there’s a chance to see how print pervades our everyday lives through a series of found and ready-made objects; while in Tarset, Northumberland, Zoe Childerley’s more photo-realistic exhibition uncovers the relationship between people and contested Northumberland land.
For those looking for some big name artists, then Durham’s Oriental Museum is the place to view rarely seen prints by some of modern art’s most famous figures. Works by Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Barbara Hepworth and more are all on display, providing a unique opportunity to gaze upon lost works. When it comes to print, there’s few figures better known than the North East’s own Thomas Bewick and, on Saturday 15th October at Great North Museum: Hancock, some of his gorgeous tail-piece engravings will form the backdrop for a special poetry reading by Jo Clement.
There’s loads more to the programme, and with the Biennale being bigger than ever, it’s certain to make a lasting impression.