Once again, I was visiting a printmaking studio housed in an interesting building, one with a past. Impress Printmakers Studio and Gallery, in Brisbane, is in a former electricity substation for the local trams.
The fabric of the building is protected and the customisations needed for housing printmaking facilities have been sensitively handled.
I was met at the studio, on Monday 9th Feb, by the group’s Treasurer, Sue Pickford, who had kindly taken time off work to meet me, show me around the studio and talk to me about the history and work of the group. We talked for a long time and I must admit that I was often too involved in our discussions to take notes. I hope Sue and other members will contact me with any corrections required or use the comments section below to expand on what I have managed to capture.
The group began in 2004 with founding members being past and current students of the Queensland College of Art and other interested printmakers, all looking for access to printmaking facilities outside of academia. They raised some $7000 in an auction of donated works, incorporated as a charity and set themselves up in the space under one member’s house (for non-Australians reading this, the Queenslander style of house is raised above the ground). There is an excellent write-up of the group’s beginnings and some snapshots on their How far we have come web page.
That web page also documents the five year journey that moving into their current premises took. Any existing printmaking workshop who is thinking about seeking out and moving to new premises ought to read this and ensure they plan for every possible contingency but also take heart from seeing just how much a dedicated and hard working group of people can achieve.
Impress is primarily an open access space for member printmakers to practice their art. They do run courses which non-members can attend but, currently, only a few.
And now to the new premises. The office space:
has a small kitchen area, a set of lockers holding group administration files (with an ingenious colour-coded padlock system) and paper for purchasing by members. A list of each paper’s properties and possible uses, pinned to the side of the paper trays, is a nice touch.
Equipment includes a couple of lithography presses and graining sink:
a couple of smaller etching presses and one impressive large one:
along with sinks, inks and work benches:
Finally, next door is a dedicated screenprint preparation area with washout bath (literally) and UV exposure unit:
Upstairs is a great gallery space where the group can show their own exhibitions or hire the space out to others. The exhibition on while I was visiting was “John Doyle: Eye of the Collector”, a set of prints collected by one of the founding members:
I was especially taken by Lisa Pullen‘s moving, expressionistic linocuts.
Notwithstanding the superb premises and obviously massive dedication of the members who volunteer their time and energy towards making the group work, what most impressed me was the range of projects that the group had been involved in, especially considering they have only been going for ten years. In addition to the two exhibitions a year of members’ work, they have worked and are planning to work with people and studios in Quebec, Hong Kong, the Pacific Rim, Hawaii, Poland, India, Shanghai, Paris and different regions around Australia. It was impossible for me (not knowing shorthand) to keep track of all those which Sue mentioned, but you can see a list of many of them at the Past Exhibitions web page.
Finally, a huge Thank You to Sue who gave up her flex time to talk to me and show me over the Impress workspace. I’ll end with a link to the image that Sue has created for the forthcoming Bimblebox 153 Birds project (I was excited to hear about this as I’d seen another Bimblebox related exhibition in Adelaide):