Northern Print established the International Print Biennale (IPB) in 2009 as the only event of its nature and scale in the UK. The third biennale took place in 2014 welcoming visitors from across the globe to a series of region-wide exhibitions and events in celebration of the role of print in contemporary artists’ practice.
The International Print Awards are the centrepiece of the International Print Biennale. The Awards are open to all British and international artists’ interpretation of contemporary print processes including 2D, 3D, video, installation and site-specific work. In 2014 an astounding 740 entries from artists in countries all over the world were received. The selectors carried out their task of sifting and reviewing the final artists with great care and the work chosen presented a fascinating snapshot of contemporary printmaking across the globe.
Through IPB, Northern Print was introduced to the work of Trevor Banthorpe and Ellen Heck who were two of the Print Awards prize winners. We are pleased to be showing work by both of these talented printmakers.
Trevor Banthorpe studied at Sir John Cass School of Art, and has exhibited widely. His work is held in private collections across the UK, USA, France, Italy and Spain. His prints are a celebration of the ordinary; mundane scenes of the everyday that are taken for granted.
Rooted in the convention of the amateur holiday ‘snap’ and drawing inspiration from such artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Christiane Baumgartner, and Tetsuya Noda, the disposable nature of these images, which start life as photographs taken on his mobile phone, is central to Trevor’s practice.
In the analogue age photographs were limited in number; even ‘bad’ ones would exist as physical artifacts within the real world, and would often cast a light onto past lives many generations down the line.
However in today’s digital world their numbers are virtually limitless, those we choose not to keep can be permanently erased, and even those considered to have merit generally only exist as binary code locked into a computer hard-drive, often to be lost forever. On one hand convenience has been gained, but legacies have been lost on the other.
Taking computer output and adding human error, Trevor’s prints attempt to redress this balance by slowing down that which is available in an instant. Leaving a tangible record of his encounters with the world as he finds it, his work offers a space for thought and quiet contemplation in a world of instant gratification.
Trevor was selected to show work in International Print Biennale 2014 and won the Northern Print Collaborative Prize for his work. The prize was an opportunity for the artist to work with master printmaker, Kip Gresham (The Print Studio, Cambridge) to develop skills and create new work. Trevor has made two new screenprint editions with the studio, both of which are on show here at Northern Print.
‘Through The Wire’ is a 14 colour print in an edition of 30 and ‘Drawing, Breath’ is an 18 colour screenprint in an edition of 30. Both prints explorethe relationship between drawing and photographic processes
Ellen Heck is currently living and working as a fine art printmaker in California where she is an artist-in-residence at Kala Art Institute. She has work in many notable collections including the V & A, Dartmouth University Library and The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA. Ellen obtained degrees in printmaking & painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in philosophy from Brown University.
Forty Fridas is a series of prints depicting women and girls dressed as Mexican painter and icon, Frida Kahlo. This project, while in some respects an intimate collection of personal portraits, touches more broadly on themes of identity, the multiple, individuality, and variation.
‘With this portfolio, as with much of my current body of work, I am using the printmaking process to highlight these concepts, which are referenced both in the subject matter and the medium.’ Ellen Heck
Forty Fridas won 2 prizes at IPB 14 – the Northern Print International Residency Prize and the V&A Print Prize, which gave the artist the opportunity to have their winning print/s included in the V&A's collection and featured on the V&A's website with text about the work by Gill Saunders, Senior Curator (Prints)
A Small Production of Alice in Wonderland
The narrow, vertical portraits of A Small Production of Alice in Wonderland are carefully rendered costume studies from a children’s production of the famous story. The girls are both in and out of character – in costume, but not staged in scenes from the play itself.
The narrative theme of the series is that of identity and relationships: each girl’s position with regard to her own role, her character’s relationship to others in the story, as well as the dynamics of the girls themselves outside of the framework of the performance. These bundled connections are compressed into each portrait, layering narrative that is subtly revealed through the position of a hand, the direction of the eyes, the tilt of a crown.
‘A Small Production of Alice in Wonderlandcontinues my interest in exploring the complexities of identity – especially youthful self-awareness and identity creation – through the lens of subtly narrative portraiture. Using the multiple plate compositions and limited palettes native to printmedia, I continue my own tradition of narrative portraiture that focuses on the many layers of identity and the early stages of its creation’. Ellen Heck
This is the first time that this series of prints has been exhibited in the UK.