World Printmakers’ Print Workshop Central

Online resources for fine-art printmaking workshops

Seacourt Print Workshop, Bangor, Northern Ireland

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Art, Research, Education

Seacourt Print Workshop is an artist print studio located in Bangor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, offering facilities for Etching, Relief, Lithography, Screen-printing, Photo-intaglio and other fine art printmaking processes. It caters to everyone with an interest in printmaking, from the beginner to the professional artist.

Seacourt maintains an annual Artist Residency and often invites artists to give talks and demonstrations in a variety of techniques. It holds several exhibitions a year for its members, and has established international links with similar studios in Europe and America to facilitate the exchange of artists, ideas and exhibitions. Find out about our different levels of membership here.

Seacourt strives, whenever possible, to use safe and non-toxic materials and methods. It was the first print workshop in Ireland to adopt Acrylic-Resist Etching techniques, as promoted by Edinburgh Printmakers. A programme of research is under way exploring galv-etch, cnc machining of plates and waterless lithography utilising water-based inks.

Education has been an essential aspect of Seacourt’s activities since its inception. Its original premises were within a teachers’ college and public classes in all techniques are still offered on a regular basis. Partnership programmes with the South Eastern Regional College and local secondary schools allow students to work alongside professional artists. Targeted outreach for groups in health and community settings is also an important part of our educational strand.

Seacourt Print Workshop

An Interview with Robert Peters,
Director of Seacourt Print Workshop

Q: Could you tell us about the origins of the Seacourt Print Workshop. When was it founded, by whom?
A: Seacourt Print Workshop was founded in 1981 by Jean Duncan and Margaret Arthur. It was based in Seacourt Teacher’s Centre in Bangor, County Down. With a star wheel etching press and a small litho press the group began to grow as a membership organisation delivering training to teachers and members of the public. In 1989 the studio moved to new premises beneath the Bangor Library. During this time the group obtained funding to purchase new presses and screentables. It introduced a three-tier level of activity:

  • artist keyholders
  • members working under supervision
  • delivery of public classes

A further move in 2006 to the present premises has offered the opportunity to extend community outreach, educational programmes and develop a research element in the organisation’s activities.

Q: Is it public or private? How is it financed? What are the opening hours?
A: SPW receives core funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. It raises further funds through membership fees, public classes and project funding. Access is dependent on the type of membership. Keyholder membership allows 24hr access seven days a week; non Keyholder allows access Mon-Fri 10am-4pm daily and then we have an irregular membership with which an artist wishing to produce a small print run can book facilities on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis on a sliding scale of rates going from £5.00 and hour to £80.00 a month. Membership not only allows access to the workshop but also covers sundries such as ink, scrim, tissue and cartridge paper. SPW also organises several exhibitions each year and has developed partnership projects with non-art organisations such as Armagh Planetarium, the Wild Fowl and Wetland Trust and Arizona State University.

Q: How many staff are there? What are their qualifications?
A: Three members of staff at present. A Director, a Research Technician and a part-time Administrator. The Director has a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Cultural Management. The Research Technician has a BA and MA in Printmaking.

Q: How many printmakers make use of the workshop facilities? Approximately how many of these are professional artists? Do you have members who started out in your workshop as amateurs or students, who have gone on to become working artists?
A: We have a membership of forty-five at present. About three quarters would consider themselves to be professional artists whilst others are graphic designers, textile designers and people who have attended classes and now want to develop there love of printmaking.

Q: What do you perceive as the most important part of the workshop’s mission?
A: Promoting printmaking to as broad an audience as possible.

Q: You website says, “Seacourt Print Workshop seeks to make the art of printmaking more widely accessible through education and outreach.” How does this work out in practical terms. What do you do? What are the results?
A: We deliver a range of educational programmes. Eight week and weekend public classes, an ‘A’ level schools programme, a professional development programme for art students at the South Eastern Regional College, outreach programmes to community groups and within health settings. The outcomes are various, though essentially positive with participants acquiring skills and putting them to use. These programmes usually generate exhibitions of the work produced.

Q: We also notice on your website a healthy penchant for international collaboration and exchanges. How did this come about? How is it received by your local stakeholders and participants?
A: The artist-in-residence programme began in 1992, and the links forged over the years have benefited both members and the public. Seeing other approaches to working with printmaking techniques can be inspiring to members. International visitors usually engage with the wider community raising SPW’s profile locally. Presently we are working closely with Pyramid Atlantic in Washington and Arizona State University to engage in cultural exchange programmes involving both exhibitions and artists. All stakeholders welcome these initiatives.

Q: We understand you’ve recently moved to a new location in an industrial park. Are you happy in your new digs? What have you gained there?
A: The move became necessary due to a re-development programme of the previous accommodation. The move from close proximity to the town centre to an industrial estate setting raised some concerns regarding ease of access in the beginning. This has proved not to be a problem, as parking and ease of access have actually improved. Having the workshop on one level has generated a new sense of communal space and created a very positive working environment.

Q: This is a question we ask everybody, as it’s an issue we’re concerned about: What is your take on the people who sell “giclee” inkjet copies as “art prints?” What do you think can be done to counter this massive phenomenon, if anything?
A: This is one of the many challenges faced by artists working in printmaking. The word “print” itself confuses the public as they associate it with reproductions of impressionist paintings they can purchase at the local DIY store for a few quid. The giclee prints add insult to injury by inferring that they are limited editions. The printmaking fraternity need to come to a consensus on what is an original limited-edition print and stake out an international standard that all organisations can sign up to and uphold. Educating the public is an ongoing task – we accompany all our exhibitions with an explanation of what an original print is and what the technical terms mean. It’s an uphill struggle.

Q: What’s your opinion of original digital work as fine-art prints? What about work which incorporates digital elements but is output through an etching or relief press. For example, prints done by artists like April Vollmer in the U.S. or Serkan Adin in Turkey.
A: Any act of placing ink onto a surface through whatever process may be considered a print, if that is the only form it exists in, i.e. not purely a reproduction of an image created in another medium. We hope to hold a symposium on this issue in 2009, I’ll keep you posted.

Q: What does the future of fine-art printmaking look from your standpoint?
A: Exciting and challenging.

Q: What’s the next step in the evolution of Seacourt Print Workshop?
A: Besides expanding on what we provide already in terms of artistic support, educational programmes and outreach, we are also looking to extend our research element into new areas of safer printmaking. We are also looking at how printmaking can tie into other disciplines and seeking collaborations with non printmakers.

Contact Seacourt Print Workshop:

Written by Michael Booth

May 20, 2008 at 6:52 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hi i am involved with a church team in Bangor Elim who make create art for church use.I am looking for ways of creating team days for a group of 8.The group involves various abilities and someone from the team uses your facilities and suggested it as a possibility.I would be interested to find out if you feel your workshop would be able to facilitate such an event.
    I look forward to chatting with you. THANKS for your time.

    Jenni Doherty

    January 6, 2010 at 12:42 am

  2. i need to no the names of printmakers from northern ireland


    March 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm

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