East London Printmakers

Normally I don’t write about the studio where I make most of my work, but I should. It’s been my favourite place to retreat to and ponder on life, and allows my prints to develop and grow of their own accord. This year I have had the privilege to be the chair of this organisation, East London Printmakers, which is a group of around 200 artists (and 40 keyholders) who all love making prints. The studio has been based in Hackney for over 14 years, a grimy part of London (remember those riots in 2011? they happened outside our front door) until it became a hip, bespoke playground for the rich and bored. And inevitably, the rents shot up and we were forced to think about moving, or folding. So we moved.

elp-studio-warmer_eeeMoving house is like throwing everything up in the air and then trying to relax when you can’t find it any more because it landed somewhere unexpected. Anyway we’ve done it. Thousands, literally thousands of hours of plotting, planning, constructing, sanding, polishing, painting, packing, moving, organising happened. Mainly all of it was done by members and studio keyholders for free… Of course the presses were moved professionally by the very excellent Giles of AMR and Mike Kirby of Linecasting Machinery, and new walls and floor and heating and lighting had to be installed as well… And the new landlords, Acme studios, have been incredibly welcoming: contributing practically and financially to helping us move in.


East London Printmakers is now based in a beautiful studio (42 Copperfield Road) sandwiched between the canal and the park, close to Mile End station. We reopened 1st October and are planning a party on 22nd October. This is a studio warming party, to invite people over to come see us, and find out more about printmaking, to thank everyone who has supported us, and to invite continued support for the future.

img_5441The press release is below. Please come!!


PS> One of the rewards will be this print in pink, or the one above in blue, which you can come and print yourself and take away for a fiver!! If you can’t make it, let me know and I’ll save one for you… elp-studio-warmer_pink_e

New year new approach! I’ve decided to make some new screenprints on a large scale and challenge all my rules: that prints have to be identical, carefully made, and compact. These are full bleed prints to the edge of 112 x 76 cm paper (the screen is practically the absolute limit of my arm span), with bands of monoprinted colour and lots of overlaps and layerings. I had a lot of fun making them, and the series continues…dance_7671_e











I came to the realisation that the unending forest would be ever spookier if the trees mirrored each other. One minute you would think you’d know where you were going, the next you’d be passing by a world which you’d seen before, but in reverse…

Here are some shots of the printing process of these big prints. Because of the scale, I had to divide the image in four and screenprint them one  quarter at a time on the fabric bed, as the largest screen bed wasn’t large enough…





I’ve been printing these in East London Printmakers for my show in Wales that opens in 3 days time!!!


Went for a well deserved swim after all that work. I think I’m building up my shoulder muscles!

East London Printmakers have an annual summer show, and this is the 14th one. We decided to celebrate the Olympics as we can practically see the Olympic site from here, and this is particularly possible from the gallery which will host our show, which is located in the Olympic park.

There has been much laughter about how the word Printathon resembles the phrase “print a thong” and lots of knicker and nappy jokes have been flying around… I’m showing a piece I did in collaboration with photographer Paul Weaver, proposing that the Olympics include the sport of Flight, and how it should be judged.

With 65 artists, there are going to be a lot of inspired, ambitious, humorous and aspirational pieces on show, so if you are around in the next month, please come and check it out. The party is on the 7th June from 6-9pm, venue Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, and you are all welcome, bring your friends!

Wooo hoo, a whole month of August in the UK for the first time in 5 years. (Hmmmmmmmm, I’m not sure if it was worth it, as the sun failed to appear, we had major crazy riots on our doorstep, and all my jobs suddenly got a lot more demanding!)

What creativity happened this month was mainly in the form of making more frames (more dresses) for the animation that is so clear in my mind. I worked on 10 new prints, which must have been a print every 3 days or so. The parallel lines and repetitive marks are a self imposed language of restriction to see what will happen with a simply pared down undulating line. The whole month’s work culminated with an exhibition in Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery in East London- a huge exhibition space in an impressive olympic site style building- as part of a group show called “The Fishwick Papers” with 50 other members of East London Printmakers.

I was super lucky as the centre of the gallery space is divided with a huge steel framed pair of columns rising up from the factory floor where salmon are smoked, which provided a perfect setting for the dresses as an installation. I put one set of dresses facing outwards and another set facing the cylindrical pipes, which were so shiny they reflected the dresses back again. The dresses look like skins and much like the twisted fish that hang on strings downstairs.

These aren’t good photos- I realise I must go back and take some more that are more descriptive… Anyway, if you get the chance please go and have a look for yourself!  Here is the blurb


Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery is proud to present “The FishWick Papers”, an exhibition of works by 50 members of the studio East London Printmakers, inspired by the liveliness and colour of the Hackney Wick area and its printmaking heritage. Artists have researched how Hackney Wick presents itself at this moment, the history and future of the area, the many lives of people we have never known and will never know, their trades and stories, and they have also taken inspiration from Fish Island and the Smokehouse itself.

The exhibition presents an extensive range of highly imaginative approaches to most traditional and modern printmaking techniques in a broad spectrum of scales and formats. It includes work by Dolores de Sade (British Institution Award 2011, J K Burt Award 2010, Ede and Ravenscroft Award 2010), Wuon-Gean Ho (Printmakers Council Price 2009 and Birgit Skiold Memorial Trust Prize 2010), Fabio Coruzzi (BBC production 2011 “Show me the Monet” 2011) and Umberto Giovannini (Premio Guidarello 2009).
The exhibition was inspired by William Chamberlain (Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery) and curated by Katja Rosenberg and Charmaine Watkiss (East London Printmakers).


East London Printmakers (ELP) is a group of artist printmakers based in Hackney, managing a spacious and modern printmaking studio providing an open access facility for a wide range of processes. ELP also runs workshops for anyone who wants to learn printmaking and organise regular exhibitions and events for members.


The exhibition will be open Opening times: Thu – Fri 5-9pm and Sat – Sun 12-5pm and by appointment (07799 411 587).
Formans Restaurant will be open during the private view and at all times during the show.

I feel very guilty that while I was larking around in the Tate printroom last month, a devastating earthquake and tsunami were shaking up the very fabric of Japan. Having lived in Japan for almost 4 years I would like to do something to help with the relief efforts, and have been printing a series of fundraiser prints which will be sold at various venues, including the Daiwa foundation on the 14th April at 5-6pm during a reception they have for a talk on pop culture, and on a website called http://www.printsforjapan.blogspot.com . Alternatively you can contact me directly for availability.

The 9 prints in the series are all of people I drew when I used to take the Keihan Train from Osaka to Kyoto in 1998 when I was a language student. I used to admire the green upholstery and the neat detailing of the carriages, and be filled with excitement about the trip to the city of my dreams. The people I drew include a man in a suit on his cell phone, a neat and tidy kimono grandma, a punky schoolgirl putting mascara on, and a monk with billowing robes.

All of them are vinyl block prints measuring 10 x 15 cm printed by hand on stockwell cartridge paper, and they are selling for £30 each (plus P&P) of which £20 will go to the British Red Cross.

I will post some more pictures here soon, but for now, here is the monk:

Woodblock workshop with Umberto Giovannini 20th March

“If I clench my buttocks, plant my feet firmly on the floor, and lock my upper body, I can transfer all my body weight onto the tip of my carving tool. It’s like a dance. That way I can carve for eight hours and not get tired.”

Wow! That was the most memorable quote from a happy Sunday in East London Printmakers at a master workshop conducted by Umberto Giovannini. That technique works for him, though I tried this technique and ended up sliding off the chair. Evidently my buttocks were not performing properly…

Look how he holds his carving knife practically upside down with the glove protecting the back of his fingers. Also he tends to push the tool into the wood sideways, and sway his upper torso while carving. The difference in holding the knives was very frustrating for me and I abandoned it for my usual forward push with the Japanese style tool in the palm of my hand and the left hand rotating the block so that I wouldn’t have to do that dancing…

Here he is inking up multiple blocks and printing them on the Albion press. He showed us a simple registration system of affixing the printing paper to the anchored blocks that mark the placement of the block itself on the bed.

Oh, I forgot to take pictures of the glorious multicoloured outcomes, but it was a fun and informative day. To see more of his work please go to http://www.umbertogiovannini.it/inglese/printmaking-uk.html though his latest works about London  are not uploaded there yet. Fantastic luminous coloured imagery in these two prints, Peckham and Liverpool street.

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