History

Written by Linda Swinfield and edited by Patricia Wilson- Adams

The Newcastle Printmakers Workshop (NPW) is undergoing a Renaissance after they were granted a Building and Community Partnerships Grant funded by the NSW government to restore their facilities in 2013. Included in this grant was the replacement of technical equipment, relining and upgrading of facilities, new electrical wiring and plumbing. This injection of funding has cemented the future our workshop facilities for artists in Newcastle for future generations.

Steamroller workshop 2 Sept 1980

Steamroller workshop 2 Sept 1980

Newcastle Printmakers Workshop is very proud of its status as the longest running open access printmaking workshop in Australia. Its status as a not for profit organisation has had an ongoing influence on its business as a community based arts establishment. Until recently much of the workshops’ long running history has been neglected and much of their history has been in storage as their focus has been on their financial survival.

As a result of the recent Archive Project that commenced in February 2014 there is emerging evidence of intermittent research into the workshop’s history. This new project has instigated a search of many personal archives and public collections for further documents. The Archives of prints, documentary footage and general administrative notations stored at the workshop will further fill some of the gaps that have been left from the time when the focus had been on maintaining the workshop. Many of the NPW documents are also currently being collated, filed and sorted by Adele Prout.

archive 1

Documents being sorted during the archive project 2014

NPW’s first capital purchase of their etching press was acquired via a New South Wales Premier Department, cultural grant.[3] This grant was written and administered by Therese Kenyon in about 1981. However the first officially recorded meeting of a committee was not until 1979. This first recorded meeting of the constituted Newcastle Printmakers Workshop was Chaired by Therese Kenyon with Deputy Chair Patricia Wilson-Adams[4]

NPW has a long running and very successful history of exhibitions including The East End Before and After(1985), The Store: a co-operative phenomena (1988) in their early years.

The East End before and After was coordinated by Therese Kenyon who was paid as Artist in residence via various sources including an Australia Council: Community Arts Board and The Visual Arts Board grant. Additional finance came from The NSW Premiers Department Division of Cultural Activities and from both Newcastle Regional Art Gallery and Newcastle Trades Hall Council. This particular project has acquired a particular status for the workshop over many decades as it was purchased in its entirety by Rodger Butler for The National Gallery of Australia Print collection.

A collection of artists books within the existing archive

A collection of artists books within the existing archive

Gift B89 lino with bleed colour

Gift, Artist Unknown, Linoblock print, 1989

In the intervening years NPW has partnered with workshops nationally and internationally. There have been many exchange exhibitions and projects including print exchanges with workshops in Hawaii, France, Japan and The United States. The most recent of this kind was their Marked by Water (2013) exchange exhibition with the Warringah Print Workshop in Sydney.

NPW honors many traditions instigated in their early years including an annual mini print exhibition initiated in mid-1984.[5] Work by NPW members is in many local regional collections and both The Lovett Gallery and Maitland Regional Art Gallery house artists’ books and suites of prints made for the annual mini print exhibitions..

Marjan van Oostrum and Lisa Kirkpatrick start sorting old photographs as a component of the Archive Project

Marjan van Oostrum and Lisa Kirkpatrick start sorting old photographs as a component of the Archive Project

There have been numerous exhibitions held at both above venues and the NPW have been generously supported by Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Newcastle Regional Museum and Newcastle Art Gallery.

The recent Archive Project has uncovered a collection of print works that underlines the quality of printmaking practice that has taken place. Artists who have used this workshop between 1979 and 2014 include Neil Emmerson, Debbie Abrahams, Vera Zulumovski, Therese Kenyon, and Patricia Wilson-Adams.

Adeles displays 1- Trisch

Visual display at NPW by Ardel Prout

Throughout its history NPW has had key figures who have chosen to stay within our community to keep the focus of the workshop’s ongoing constitution and has kept our doors open. They have enabled the promotion of printmaking, its techniques, skills and practices and they have ensured that it will keep its doors open for the next generation of artists in the Hunter Region.

[1] Delforce B, NPW Newcastle Printmakers Workshop,2011, page 12

[2] Ibid

[3] Interview with Patricia Wilson- Adams, April 2014.

[4] Newcastle: The Special Edition 1797 – 1997 catalogue, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, 1997, p.3

[5] Delforce B, Page 18.

 

 

 

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