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Printmaking day at local studio brings history module to life for students

Students made their own prints using traditional methods.

Second-year history undergraduates took a step back in time to discover ways of making an artistic statement using centuries-old methods.

Students made their own prints using traditional methods and machinery at bip-Art, a Brighton printmakers that specialises in traditional printmaking courses.

The visit to the independent facilities was designed to enhance students’ understanding of the printmaking processes used in 18th-century Europe as part of their module '1796: Lithography and the Mass Produced Image'. 

Under the guidance of experienced printmakers, students were able to try out techniques such as etching on metal, engraving in relief, and creating lithographs on absorbent surfaces.

Students said producing their own prints helped them to appreciate that the reproductions of this historical period were the product of craft-like processes requiring the skilful use of tools and a basic knowledge of chemistry. They also learnt how printmaking required an appetite for dirt, grime, and unpleasant odours, as well as hard, repetitive labour.

Francesca Elia, a student who attended the workshop, said: “It was a very practical experience where I could apply what I’d read about. You can’t experience it by reading. When you are there making prints, you can.” 

Commenting on the workshop, course convenor Dr James Baker said: "During my doctoral research I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to print an image using methods common in the long 18th century. This is when I realised that there was so much more to know about the history of the printed image than the reproductions held in archives and museums. I wanted to give the students the opportunity to have that moment for themselves.”

The workshop was subsidised by the History department in support of the student experience.

By: Daniel Chard
Last updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2018