makers

Upland and Ottersburn Gallery team up to show work by modern makers

An exhibition is about to open of artwork by six young people from Dumfries and Galloway who have been tutored by three of the region’s leading original printmakers.

Modern Makers 2019: The Craft of Printmaking takes place at The Ottersburn Gallery, Dumfries from 23 August to 11 September and includes everything from self-portraits to studies of the environment and pieces inspired by nature.

The young people, all under 30, have been mentored by Pamela Grace, Colin Blanchard and Hugh Bryden under the annual Modern Makers scheme run by Upland CIC.

The programme provides a rare opportunity for young people to have 30 days of intensive learning during which they work alongside established and respected artists and craft makers.

This year they have each produced a series of original prints, using a whole range of techniques, which are on show in the exhibition.

Colin, who introduced the group to screen printing and linocuts, said: “It’s been great working with these young people – I really get the impression that they appreciate printmaking as an art form that is just as creative as painting or drawing.

“The Modern Makers programme has given them a superb introduction to lots of different ideas, approaches and techniques. And the fact that they have been asked to create pieces for an exhibition as part of the programme is a tremendous challenge.

“What has particularly impressed me is that these young people have taken to printmaking so much that some of them are now pushing ahead under their own steam.”

Pamela, who delivered workshops in etching and lithography, said: “I very much enjoyed working with the group helping them develop their artistic ideas through the processes of printmaking. Printmaking is quite unusual, I think of it as an art like a craft.

“We did all sorts of things including making dry point plates – a form of direct etching on heavy acetate and experimented with chine-collé, a method of collaging fine paper under prints. We also made etching plates using light sensitive plates , photo polymer etching giving fine detail .

“The makers had to work through these processes without being sure what the end results would be, but their hard work and patient learning has produced some great work.”

The six participants are:

  • Blossom McCuaig (26): Dumfries-based artist, illustrator and muralist.
  • Emily Tough (25): An artist based in Dumfries.
  • Erin Retson (22): An art and design graduate who lives on a small farm between Eastriggs and Gretna.
  • Ione McCall (21): Who lives in Eastriggs and studies illustration at the University of Cumbria.
  • Jamie Styker (24): A Californian illustrator and graphic designer who moved to Dumfries in 2018.
  • Katy Billington (30): Based in Castle Douglas she works as the youth engagement officer at The Catstrand Arts Centre in New Galloway.

During the programme the group worked at Colin Blanchard’s studio near Waterbeck and at the Gracefield Arts Centre Print Studio experimenting with lithography, screen printing, linocut, collagraph and etching.

They also visited other printmakers in the region including Lisa Hooper, Sarah Stewart and Clare Melinsky, for insights into how different print makers create their work and how an artist or maker functions in today’s social and economic environment.

Amy Marletta, Projects Director at Upland, said: “Our region is fortunate to have some superb printmakers living and working here. This year’s Modern Makers has given six young people the chance to learn from some of the best.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with the Ottersburn Gallery to celebrate what the six young artists and makers have achieved and showcase a selection of the prints they created during the programme.”

Sean McKay, owner of the Ottersburn Gallery, added: “As a frustrated artist my way of being involved with creativity is by providing opportunities for other people to display their work.

“So I really enjoy encouraging emerging artists and working with organisations like Upland – and am very much looking forward to sharing the prints created by this year’s Modern Makers with the public.”

  • There will be a special opening event for the exhibition from 6-8pm on Thursday, 22 August to which all are welcome.

Pictured: The Modern Makers in the photo are (l-r) Katy Billington, Emily Tough, Blossom McCuaig, Erin Retson and Ione McCall. Picture by Colin Tennant

Self portraits by the modern makers.