If you’re not a regular in the city’s Cultural Quarter, you may still be taken by surprise by the striking presence of Leicester Print Workshop’s new-ish home. The opening of the transformed former warehouse last November was a significant milestone in LPW’s 30 year history. 

In fact, founding member Claire Morris Wright freely admits it’s a milestone she’d never even dared to imagine back in the mid-80s. She was one of a small group from The Knighton Lane Artist Studios who were simply in need of some kind of print facility. After gathering the thoughts of fellow artists and making contact with established print studios in other UK cities, the group came up with a “mad idea” to create their own workshop in Leicester.

They took their plan to the City and then the Arts Council, gaining logistical and financial support through various meetings, plenty of form filling and lots of hard graft and eventually LPW was born in a converted terraced house. Claire remembers the opening night with great fondness: “It was a lovely warm evening and such a relief after so much physical and emotional investment. I was elated at our achievement as we had all worked so hard and we did it in our spare time on such a shoe string budget.”

From there the workshop’s reputation among artists, printing facilities and community outreach grew. The workshop gained charitable status in 1993, and moved to to bigger premises on St Stephen’s Road in Highfields later that decade. By 2012, the workshop had grown again with a membership of over 150 artists, travelling from as far away as London, Leeds and Luxembourg to use the studio. It was decided another bigger move was needed – to a 1970s warehouse on St George Street. Cue lots of fundraising – over £750,000. Not an easy aim, but luckily one which came with lots of support and clear success. Workshop director Lucy Phillips says the move has been positive in so many ways – not only more physical space and better access, but they now feel like a bigger organisation with a higher public profile for the workshop and its artists.

So what does Lucy feel the next 30 years hold?

“We now have one of the largest open access print studios in the country so our hopes are for LPW to be a ‘go to’ place for artists who want to make prints or learn printmaking and for local people to find lots of opportunities to be involved and to visit whether it’s for an exhibition, a free drop in, an artist talk, a course, to use the studio or perhaps to volunteer.”

A9E0D3112D25E44AB183E99600B54168@eurprd07.prod.outlook.comSumiko Eadon
LPW Artist in Residence, Studio Volunteer

Why did you join?

I received the LPW Fine Art student prize at Loughborough University in 2013, and the prize was the membership. It is the only place in the area where there are good printmaking facilities in which I can make work of professional standard. After graduation it is difficult to find somewhere to continue to make prints.

Best thing about the workshop?

LPW has given me a lot of opportunities since I have become a regular volunteer two years ago, and I am really grateful for their support. I am now teaching occasionally, am a part of studio team as a volunteer and am an artist in residence. For me, it is not only the place for professional development but also the main place for my artistic development.

How would you describe your printmaking?

I do screenprinting, etching, monoprint, relief printing (as woodcut print and wood engraving). Next year I really want to learn lithography. I started printmaking because of living in England and Japan, it is a long story but I guess it is a cultural exchange within my thoughts in a way. Printmaking process is also my thought process in a way.

SarahKirbySARAH KIRBY
Artist in Residence

How long have you been a workshop member?

I joined in 1991. Two years later, just as I finished my MA at Nottingham, I actually got the Print Worker job at the Workshop  and moved to Leicester for it.

How would you describe your printmaking?

In the beginning I was doing mainly etching but over the last 10 years my work is mainly linocuts. I live and work in the city and have been making a series of work about Leicester’s buildings over the last decade… alongside ongoing work about my garden, my cats, and trees keep making their way into pictures!

Did you ever expect it to be as it is, after 30 years?

I did think it would still be here but only in my dreams did I think it would have such a brilliant home as it does now. It’s the kind of place when I visited other city’s print workshops  I’d have a bit of a wishful envy about, but now Leicester definitely has the best workshop in the country and I’m so happy to still be part of it, still making work… it’ll see me out!

album (157)JANE SUNBEAM
LPW Artist

Why did you join?

I have been a member of LPW on and off for 17 years. I joined because I fell in love with printmaking whilst doing my degree, but once I graduated I missed the use of the equipment, but also the communal sharing of ideas and techniques that one gets when working in such an environment – from waiting for the ‘big reveal’ of the print when it’s been through the press, to advice on technical elements.

What has the new building meant to you?

Sadly, for a number of reasons, my disability meant that I could not go to the workshop in Highfields any longer, as it was becoming too much of a struggle with access. So, when this wonderful new building opened I was so excited to re-join. It really is wonderful now – I can drive up, park outside and wheel myself into the building. And now there is so much space, I can set up a table near to where I need to be, and I am away. A real dream come true.

How would you describe your printmaking?

Although I have a good working practice of screenprinting and linocuts, my main method of working is collagraphs. I tend to work rather small, adding in lots of rich detail, tones and texture.  When I create the plates, I am very private, often working in isolation at home to allow for full concentration, and so the social element of the printing in the workshop is a welcome contrast.

Screenprinting at Leicester Print Workshop Photo by Annie Evans CROP FOR SCOOPEmma Gardner
Artist in Residence

Why did you join?

LPW were looking for volunteers. I had recently graduated with a Fine Art Degree from De Montfort University and wanted to gain experience working for an arts organisation. I began helping the LPW staff deliver workshops at festivals such as Spark Festival and Belgrave Mela.

Why have you stayed?

There aren’t many places like LPW, and in its rarity I want to help it succeed and thrive. The accessibility to great printing equipment, opportunities for development like fellowships and residencies, artist talks, knowledgeable staff and the opportunity to participate in exhibitions, are only some of the reasons I’ve stayed.

How would you describe your printmaking?

At the moment, as part of my LPW Residency I’m exploring photographic printmaking processes like screenprinting, photoplate lithography and solarplate. The photos tell a story of the LPW’s old studio and are nostalgic for those who were familiar with the space.

What do you do when not printing? 

When I’m not printing or teaching printmaking in schools I can be generally found working at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park in Warwickshire, which I really enjoy. I’m currently helping to deliver the Picasso on Paper exhibition later this year. Alongside the exhibition I’m putting together a learning resource room, which will focus of the process of printmaking. Naturally LPW will be helping us deliver and facilitate this part of the exhibition.

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Becca is a radio producer and trainer for the BBC, and co-writes the lifestyle blog The Weekend Collective. Born and based in Leicester, she is an enthusiastic consumer of all things creative and is a serious FOMO sufferer.

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