The reawakening of printmaking in recent years adds an exciting dimension to visual arts in our region and the opening of Print Artists North Biennial Exhibition at the Beaverlodge Art and Culture Centre promises to show the best talents of print makers from across the Peace Country.
Printmaking is hardly a newcomer to the Peace. Beaverlodge artist Euphemia McNaught produced acclaimed linocuts throughout her long artistic career and Keith Howard’s teaching at Grande Prairie Regional College and in Peace River had a major impact on the development of the art.
So what exactly is printmaking? Dawson Creek’s Charlie Parslow, president of Print Artists North, explains that printmaking has a stellar history beginning with handprints on the walls of caves in prehistoric times.
“The development of paper in 105 AD added momentum to printmaking activities involving the carving of Chinese scriptures into stone, pressing and molding damp paper into the carved letters followed by rubbing ink onto the paper.”
Today, the most widely known form of printmaking would be relief prints made by first carving a design into linoleum or wood and then spreading ink over the surface before pressing paper on to the medium. Working with various colours of ink, artists can produce one-of-a-kind art pieces. In fact, Euphemia McNaught’s many linocut prints are highly collectible even today, decades after she produced them.
Each Christmas she would design a special linocut greeting card for her many relatives and friends by pressing the same inked hand-carved linocut image on to heavy paper or card stock, then hand painting every one differently so each recipient received a distinctive, original piece of art.
Parslow says, “Members of Print Artists North use a variety of methods in their print making. Along with linocuts, the BACS exhibit will showcase techniques such as etching, monoprinting, eco printing, and lithography.”
Print Artists North is associated with The Flying Colours Arts Organization and it is primarily through the teaching of Parlsow’s wife, Mary, that over twenty visual artists throughout the Peace Region of BC and Alberta have added printmaking to their palette of artistic expression.
Parslow is heartened that there has been such an enthusiastic response to this year’s exhibition, “The biennial show includes prints from regional artists from Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Charlie Lake, Montney, Grande Prairie, Sexsmith and others who live in the rural areas of the Peace River District.”
“The use of the word ‘print’ has been a source of confusion for some people,” admits Parslow, “Many images are called prints when they are really reproductions of an original. Prints and reproductions are two different forms of art. A reproduction is a photograph or a copy of a piece of original art that is produced using a camera, computer, or photocopier.
A print is created by hand and involves the direction and skill of the artist at all stages in the development of the art.”
Wach December BACS stuffs its Mini Gallery with art and fine crafts perfect for gift giving. It’s your chance to support our local artists and artisans, along with our local economy, by giving a hand-crafted gift. Choose from original and affordable framed art, hand-knit items, homemade edibles, table décor, hand-painted Christmas balls, art cards and calendars, uniquely crafted tree ornaments, bees wax candles, henna art, scarves and felted hats, hand-crafted wood items, and so much more.
The Print Artists North exhibit and the Christmas Gift Gallery open on November 28 until December 22. Situated across from the Big Beaver, the Beaverlodge Art and Culture Centre is open Tuesday to Sunday. Call 780-354-3600 for further information.