Dear students and teachers on VS500 Advanced Print and Media,
I must admit to being slightly hesitant when the proposed course was forming, it seemed ambitious to try and cross two areas which until now had existed fairly separately in CityLit arts. Digital practice has of course been creeping into the traditional print studio for a long time – but this course was aiming for more, aiming to work with artists who were able to think within the combined mediums, and to create from that same space. As the very first cohort you have done such a fantastic job of embracing this, and shown us by going on to create some beautiful work. Hats off to you! And Hats off to the tutors too!! Your efforts have helped keep print where it belongs, at the forefront of arts technologies. And managing to continue through Covid, seriously! Please be proud. I am.
Adam Piper – Print Coordinator
Instagram: citylit_printmaking & a_p_a_m_citylit
Printmaking offers the visual artist a remarkable range of possibilities for creative expression. In the contemporary context, the range of processes available, the ways in which they can be combined, and the number of purposes to which they can be applied, is virtually unlimited.
As a fine art form, print has always been inextricably linked with the latest technologies in commercial printing and publishing, and as such, is a form of creative practice with an established tradition several hundred years long, throughout which entire time, it has been at the cutting edge of technology. The story of print is that of publishing, communications, and the dissemination of ideas, news and propaganda… it is critical to the development of visual communications, of central importance equally to fine art, and graphic design, and to the propagation of visual information in all forms.
Integrating print with other forms of technologically assisted creative practice has been my area of practice and research for many years, as a student, and then as an artist and lecturer or course leader in print in a number of art schools. When I joined City Lit as Head of Advanced Programmes, and we launched the City Lit Art School, this course was the first item on my development wish list. I found a gap, and snuck it in halfway through the year, at the very first opportunity. Then, I asked Adam and Rolina to step up and deliver.
I never doubted for a second that it would be a great success, but I have been amazed by the range, breadth and maturity of the work that has emerged in just a few short months – in the middle of a global pandemic that has changed life as we know it, in the midst of economic uncertainty… basically, the strangest few weeks of our lives. That we see such fresh and engaging work appearing in that context, after so short a time is testament to the commitment and quality of the students and staff. Congratulations to one and all. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Raz Barfield – Head of Advanced Programmes
VS500.. WoW – what a year! To think that we started on the 16th of January 2020 to now see what has been achieved. We are currently finding ourselves on The Advanced Print and Media – Final Year – Student Led – Online Group Show – Website!
I think back with great joy to the first day the students walked into the computer lab, nobody had a clear idea of what it was they wanted, but there was something about the curiosity and willingness to develop that ignited the engines of creation. From day one we addressed the importance of group work and collaboration. The group left their first session in the computer lab with positives and negatives, followed by a break, to then spend the evening in the print room together. All students produced individual work, but they also produced their first collaborative piece. Those prints were the foundation for future works as a group. You can see how that has flourished into their practice and their attitude towards teamwork. This website is built by the students – the only page that is edited by another is this one.
The exciting part of how Advanced Print and Media operates in the building is that you spend 3 hours in the computer lab, followed by 3 hours in the print room. This way of working instigates the conversation between printmaking in both its analogue and digital form and creates space for the students and tutors to question and develop what printmaking is and how it resides within the realms of contemporary practice.
Due to the current global situation we have had to move the teaching online – not knowing when or how we might return to the studios… against all odds we have managed to complete the second term through the magic of Google Classroom and Google Meets – a totally unforeseen turn of events! The idea of teaching a print based course online has been met with a lot of scepticism, but through the brilliance of our tutors and the perseverance and passion of our students we managed to actually create an incredible space for printmaking, critical thinking and collaboration. The students rose to the challenge and have developed their practice beyond any of our expectations. I would like to thank the tutors for their exceptional attitude towards these difficult times, and how they have completely changed what it means to bring innovation to the classroom.
I would like to congratulate the students on their fantastic end of year show, you should all be immensely proud of yourselves. You have been working so hard on your projects and have absorbed all that was coming your way – accepted the challenge and you have grown as individual artists, but also as an incredible collective. Looking forward to the summer term!
Rolina E. Blok – Course Leader for Advanced Print and Media
“At the beginning of a pestilence and when it ends, there’s always a propensity for rhetoric. In the first case, habits have not yet been lost; in the second, they’re returning. It is in the thick of a calamity that one gets hardened to the truth”
Albert Camus – The Plague
The Corona Virus and subsequent lock-down came with several stipulations: face to face contact stopped. Access to some of the more basic things often came with extreme limitations and many commented on a slower, more basic way of living. Of course, other predictable, often tokenistic moments spring to mind too. Cringing whilst watching a mash up of Hollywood celebrities disingenuously braying their way through lines of “Imagine” by John Lennon: The anthem of 2020! Sung through the medium of the Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams video call, its aesthetic was perfect. And its empty sentiment, sung by the cream of our groomed attention seeking celebrity culture spoke of its impending, albeit momentary obsolescence, as society would begin to once again realise the importance of the forgotten people: The key workers.
As lock-down hit hard the notion of the exclusion zone dawned upon me. Novels such as Camus “The Plague”, and the Strugatsky brother’s “Roadside Picnic” philosophise upon no-go areas, technological isolation, and powerlessness. As the virus spread the themes resonating from these works of fiction became real. Staying home became the norm and the city became inaccessible. This went from something that was ‘other’ to something impacting our own microcosm: The printmaking department… So then begged the question: How does one teach and one learn printmaking without face-to-face contact? Printmaking, and screen printing requires technical equipment that people simply do not have at home. What was needed as a cure was both plasticity and lateral thinking. With these obstacles my answer resided in my own practice, which takes concepts and methodology from print and applies them to moving image. What happened was a truly unique phenomenon. Our students responded, adapted, and delivered to the lectures, briefs, feedback, and seminars, all through the prism of the video chat. That awkward, unreliable medium our celebrities failed so abysmally to adjust to when singing “Imagine”. Our students incorporated themes, stories, layering and editing techniques straight from the print studio and applied them to a moving image and sound project. Ideas and early edits were shared, discussed, improved… all astonishingly done online. Everyone had to adapt. People learned how to do stop-frame animation, others used sound editing packages for the first time, yet the instinctive yearning to learn, share and communicate shone through and momentarily worked as a vaccine to this afflicting virus. We were as a group, cured. Some of the fruits of their labour are here in their final (online) exhibition/website. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I did listen to the students discuss and make their work.
Adam Hogarth – Tutor Advanced Print and Media
I find it exhilarating to see students opening up to experimentation and dialogue between old and new technologies.
The constant interchange of ideas that lead to an expanding and evolving artistic endeavour is very stimulating.
Teaching on the Advanced Printmaking and Media course during this pandemic has proven to be both challenging and rewarding. The almost overnight shift from traditional face-to-face delivery to the online realm, has forged previously un-imagined possibilities of integrating contemporary technologies with traditional teaching methods. We have embarked upon a novel and expansive ‘arena’ in which fully experimental methodologies can be employed and encouraged, to facilitate a positive and meaningful student experience and a new paradigm of peer exchange.
Monika Kita – Tutor Advanced Print and Media
What a weird time to be a teacher and student! Often when you teach and learn, there’s a led weight around your neck, distractions, responsibilities, pulling you away either physically or mentally, doing all they can to steal that time away from you, the time for communicating, thinking and doing but as everything got swept away among the uncertainty, the anchors that we’re strongest we’re; communicating, thinking and doing.
Gareth Berwyn – Tutor Advanced Print and Media
It’s always hard to cast one’s mind back to the beginnings of a course as you approach students final presentations. Easy to forget a few of the myriad staging posts and diversions in their creative journeys. This year it’s harder, the lockdown having pushed pre-COVID time into the dark ages. Distant are the analogue sessions in 310 during the first few months of the year, but so distant they have become all the more vivid. Rolling out sticky, viscous oil based ink with slightly springy, heavy rollers that if placed too hastily on the plate glass surface tipped forward with a dull thud. The same rollers if used too slowly to ink the surface of the thin, lightweight laser cut wooden type would stick and lift it clean into the air. The constant watchfulness for errant ink and the ever restless movement of the press, the drying racks being filled and the session egg timer emptying. Always the slow start before the gallop to the end, with snatched time to touch base about content or research, as momentum increased and possibilities were identified. Each session a microcosm of a longer trajectory. In March that momentum was halted abruptly, the trajectory was diverted, laid waste by events, all boats becalmed.
In nautical tradition when there was no wind to help, boats were rowed, usually groups of people would sit on either side of the boat and keep on rowing until they reached their destination. This term students and tutors have likewise pulled together to regain impetus. The move to online delivery has been interesting in what it has necessitated and revealed. The group were impressively proactive from the outset of lockdown; acquiring kit and materials for practical use at home, tenaciously wrestling with new software in isolation and using Whats App to communicate and support each other. Equally notable has been their willingness to dive into all the new challenges set them by the tutors this term and these have been many. They have worked with photography, Film, in 3D, with installation, with drawing, print, collage and text.
These online sessions have allowed for wide-ranging experimentation and this equitable space has fostered a new attentiveness as research and ideas are shared and discussed. Outside these classes there have been exciting opportunities to access free talks, events and artist led initiatives. This term, for students and tutors alike, has been about; finding new ways of working, the usefulness of working with constraints, discipline and stamina. It is evident that this change in trajectory has led to substantial differences in the outcomes. Therefore, I look forward to seeing where these new developments in your work take you all next. Exciting times ahead and all against a mercurial backdrop.
Well done class of 2020, ink : blue // glass
Sue Baker Kenton – Tutor Advanced Print and Media
As a printmaking tutor and artist I was invited to work with VS500, setting projects and also offering advice and guidance throughout their progression. Due to the current C19 event the group were forced to work out side of the studio and soon learnt they had to be inventive and resourceful in order to produce interesting work, they applied themselves well and rose to the challenge, growing in confidence, as they learnt new techniques within the set projects. The students explored a range of digital programs to discover new and exciting ways to use animation, film and sound to enrich and enliven their artwork. It has been a pleasure observing the development of the brilliantly creative group, they have worked successfully as individuals to produce exceptionally inventive work using the different mediums and also have performed amazingly well in collaboration with each other to produce an effective online gallery website to display the amazingly imaginative artwork they have created. Good luck to you all and may you continue with much success.
David Holah – Tutor Advanced Print and Media