Studio News: Edition 8: 15 May 2020

Studio News: Edition 8: 15 May 2020

 Late Shows at Northern PrintWelcome

This week we’re celebrating the evening hours, night time prints, volunteers and The Late Shows.

The Late Shows is part of the European ‘Museums at Night’ Initiative. Here in NewcastleGateshead cultural venues open their doors free of charge to welcome audiences to experience whatever wonderful thing they have to offer. It’s a smorgasbord of things to see and do across the city. Northern Print has been taking part in The Late Shows since 2008 and has welcomed over 13,000 visitors to experience printmaking - often having a go themselves and taking home a printed keepsake.

The Late Shows is a chance to let rip and enjoy the surprise and pleasure the arts brings to everyone. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing one of our studio volunteers tempt a reluctant adult (who thinks the activities are for kids) to have a go and then watch as their trepidation turns to absorption in the task and pride in the result.

So – what have been The Late Shows highlights for Northern Print? Modern Toss in the downstairs toilet (and listening to our Chair Alan Wann explaining why it’s not suitable for children); printed paper lanterns floating in the inky blue of an Ouseburn evening; Flaming Prints where we linked up with print studios to circle the globe in 24 hours; boxing demonstration with printed punch bags; glow in the dark beards… or perhaps one of the quieter activities – like the lasercut printed trees and cherry tree seeds? The Late Shows has alas been cancelled for 2020 – but we will be sharing our highlights online tonight and looking forward to future events with renewed energy. So join us and some of the other Late Shows venues between 7- 11pm who will be tweeting under the hashtag #LoveLateShows

Mat Collishaw

Mat Collishaw, from the series ‘Insecticides’; photogravure etching published by Paupers Press. 2010

These were exhibited at Northern Print for The Late Shows in 2013 and we had a virtual link up with Collishaw for a Q&A. There are some images of the works being printed here. It is interesting to see the bright colours laid down before the darker areas are overprinted.

Night time is the right time…

The idea of creating an image out of darkness seems to have particular resonance in printmaking. Perhaps it is simply the fact that so many print processes rely on a negative and positive element – often the mark-making being an act of forming the light or white areas in everything from wood-engraving to mezzotint. It somehow feels there’s more to it than that – a sense of creating images out of an inky darkness – from velvet night to velvet black… 

 Edward Hopper   James McNeilJames McBey   Anja Percival

Clockwise from top left: Edward Hopper, ‘Night Shadows’, 1921. Better known as a painter with much-loved images such as ‘Night Hawks’, Hopper was also an accomplished etcher. He was taught the basic by fellow artist and illustrator, Martin Lewis – check out his work and especially the drypoint Arch, Midnight that could almost be Ouseburn on a Late Shows evening. James McNeil Whistler, ‘Nocturne: Palaces’ 1878. From a series of etchings of Venice – the wiping, with ink left on the surface of the plate creates the ethereal quality of gathering darkness. Anja Percival, ‘Station Light VII’. Etching available from Northern Print £350. James McBey, ‘Venetian Night’ 1930. You can see more of his work in the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland here. 

Whistler was one of the proponents of the Etching Revival in England with the formation of the Old Etching Club in London in 1838 – this eventually became The Royal Society of Painter Printmakers which continues to this day with members being elected by their peers. You can find out more about the society here. The Etching Revival that began with Whistler (and his brother-in-law Francis Seymour Haden, a surgeon) led to a flourishing market in the sale and collection of etchings of which McBey’s works were some of the most sought after.

Mezzotint is perhaps the ultimate process for creating light out of darkness – for those who don’t know about mezzotint there’s a good video about the process by Julie Niskanen Skolozynski here.

 Katsunori Hamanishi      Allan Barnfather

Left: Katsunori Hamanishi, ‘Window Sunset’, mezzotint. Hamanishi visited Northern Print when the studio was on Fish Quay, North Shields and has exhibited with us on two occasions. You can see a demonstration of his printing technique for the Cleveland Print Club, USA here. Right: Allan Barnfather 'Little Owl'. Allan attended Marc Balakjian's mezzotint masterclass at Northern Print in 2014 and has since been developing his technique.


Anne Desmet    Paul Nash


Northern Print’s current exhibition would have been the centenary exhibition from The Society of Wood Engravers. We are hoping to be able to reschedule this to either later this year or early 2021. In the meantime, here are two moonlit images. Left: Anne Desmet, ‘Oculusn by Moonlight’, Linocut and monotype paper collaged onto convex glass, 2013.  Anne is a current member of SWE - visit her website here. Right:  Paul Nash, ‘The Creation of Sun and Moon’ from Genesis. Nash was also an exhibitor with the SWE. The image here is taken from the collection at The Wellcome Trust.

Covid update

We wanted to give you an update on our actions and plans in relation to covid-19.

Financially closure has had a big impact on Northern Print. Despite receiving a regular grant from Arts Council England, we rely on earned income and project funding to keep going – basically the grant we receive doesn’t cover our core running costs. Whilst we are closed, we have lost all our earned income. In response to this we have decided to use the government’s scheme for job retention (furloughing Alex and Rebecca) and applied for the grant related to business rates. We are also in the process of applying to Arts Council England’s Emergency fund to help us put in place the things we need to be able to continue between now and the end of September.

We have also set up a ‘donate’ page on our website to encourage individual giving to keep us going and will promote this alongside stories about The Late Shows this weekend. We know the Late Shows usually attracts an audience of around 1200 to visit Northern Print – many of whom come every year and make a small donation.

We were pleased that so many studio users responded to the survey about our activities during the last 8 weeks and were heartened to see such positive comments too. This has been a steep learning curve for a fairly low-tech organisation so thank you for your encouragement and support.

What’s next?

We hope to start offering some limited online sales of artworks and continue with a click and collection option for printmaking materials to studio users. Please email if there’s anything you require. Helen is also happy to post out any items to you too.

We are looking at the government’s guidance about returning to work and thinking how we can apply this to Northern Print. We are hoping to introduce a phased return for studio users only - by introducing designated workspaces with social distancing throughout the building. There are of course additional complexities to manage in a print studio – but we hope that because we already have clear procedures for health and safety this will mean that this is less of a cultural shift for everyone.

We know many of you will also be shielding, home schooling, reliant on public transport or just not ready to get back out there yet. We intend to continue to support all our studio users with remote technical support and the other activities we have introduced – and hopefully be able to complement these by having better access to all the things we normally have around us at Northern Print.

Studio Membership renewals

As some of you may realise, since lockdown we haven't sent any reminders to those of you whose membership is due for renewal. All our paper files remain onsite and we are aware that we aren’t able to provide all the usual benefits – though we do hope our alternative activities go some way to making up for this. In any case, it seems churlish to remove people from the members mailing list at this time. We do however need to keep some income coming into the organisation to be able to re-open the studio and make the adjustments that are needed.

We will begin emailing those whose membership is due for renewal and hope if you can you will re-join as normal, but if not please let us know if you want to remain a member but can’t afford do so at the current time. We are looking at what other options we could introduce as we want us all to stay together through this so that we are in a strong position to reopen.

Remote Technical Support

Helen is available to provide support via email, telephone, Zoom or Facetime at the times below or can be contacted by email to arrange a time. Helen will answer questions and work through any technical support to suit your needs and at your pace on a one-to-one basis.

Please note these support sessions are FREE OF CHARGE – what’s not to like?

Helen date time
Tuesday 19/05/20 10am, 12noon, 2pm, 4pm
Thursday 21/05/20

10am, 12noon, 2pm, 4pm

Helen can also do this at other times to suit you – please contact her for availability.

Printmakers Coffee Break

Next coffee break is Tuesday 19 May at 11am

If you have any thoughts or questions about printmaking or just want to chat (or just listen in) with other studio users and staff you can join the coffee break via Zoom, just email us for the link and access codes.

Introducing Printmakers WINE TIME – by popular demand!

Patrick Caulfield   Michael Craig   Damien Hirst

Left: Patrick Caulfield, ‘Wine Glasses’ screenprint, 1969 (Tate Collection). Middle: Michael Craig Martin ‘B’ from Alphabet, a series of 26 screenprints, 2007. You can see the full series at Cristea Roberts Gallery website. Right: Damien Hirst, Becks Beer Labels, 1995. Brewing company Becks have commissioned many artists to design limited edition labels – here is an example by Damien Hirst from V&A Collection.

We are responding to requests and the results of our survey to do more outside of normal work hours (remote technical support also available on Thursday evenings or Saturdays)

Introducing our first Printmakers Wine Time at 6pm On Thursday 21 May at 6pm. Join via the zoom link below. Bring your own bottle (other drinks are available), conversation may vary.

Join Zoom Meeting just email us for the link and access details.

Virtual Visit: Debby Akam

Wednesday 20 May at 2pm.

Debby Akam 1   Debby Akam 2

Studio user Debby Akam is hosting a virtual visit to her studio in Cumbria. Debby will be showing her work in progress involving painting, wax resist and woodcut – as well as showing us the work she would have been taking to PrintFest. You can see more of Debby’s work here.

Again - please email us for the Zoom details of how to join this visit.

Sharing your work online #printmakerspost

If you have images of work in progress, finished work or perhaps sketchbooks or ideas you would like to share we are doing this via social media (Instagram; facebook and twitter) using the hashtag #printmakerspost. For those of you who would prefer to email images and short text we will share as part of our weekly newsletter. Just email to

You can post on social media at any time but we thought it might be good if we tried to post new work on Fridays to round off the week.

Lydia Wysocki     Ian Gale


Steve Jeffries     Steve Jeffries 2

Staying connected

Or Facebook group Northern Print Share and Chat is becoming a nice friendly online place to hang out and now has 44 members.

If you're on Facebook, why not join and you can chat with other printmakers, ask them about their work, see prints in progress and show your own work?

This week we have had images of studio setups, chat about Chris Madge's gum bichromate process, reflections about the development of work from artists including Anja Percival and Ian Gale, a Facebook live chat from Carol Nunan and a video of the dawn chorus from Margaret Adams.

Other opportunities

We are trying to do a weekly roundup of opportunities we see but please send in any that you’d like to share with other studio users.

  • The government have a scheme to support self-employed people that may be relevant to some of you – here’s the link
  • Printmaking Today has a listings of opportunities available online here
  • CuratorSpace have opportunities across all visual art forms here
  • a-n has an updated page on guidance and support for artists – here

Please ask if you would like any advice with applications.

If you have any suggestions or would like to contribute to future editions of Studio News please get in touch via We’d love to hear from you!

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