Tom Hammick Waiting for Time, 2016 Reduction woodcut ©2016 TOM HAMMICK

International Print Biennale 2016 | Newcastle upon Tyne

September 16 – October 30
at venues across Newcastle and the North East

Newcastle residents are incredibly lucky. Every year, the city seems to play host to more and more festivals celebrating some unique aspect of contemporary culture. As a Newcastle native, I’m fortunate to have attended most of these, but none get me quite as excited as the International Print Biennale. Having trained as a printmaker (albeit very briefly) I’ll admit that I’m slightly bias. However, it’s impossible to deny the hard work and dedication the small team at Northern Print put in to make it happen, and the astounding results they achieve.

Northern Print Director Anna Wilkinson with Councillor Nick Forbes at the prize giving ceremony
Northern Print Director Anna Wilkinson with Councillor Nick Forbes at the prize giving ceremony

Northern Print, Vane and Gallery North form the nucleus of this year’s biennale, who between them are exhibiting work by the artists shortlisted for the seven awards given out at the start of the festival. The 31 nominated artists have produced some of the most engaging, inventive, inspiring and downright beautiful printmaking from around the world being made today.

Kevin Frances (USA) uses traditional Japanese woodblock techniques to create subtle, delicate prints. They explore the common objects we walk past hundreds of times a day, yet have major cultural significance and the potential to tell an epic story. Narrative is further developed in prints by Tom Hammick (UK). His dreamlike scenes draw on literary influences and found imagery. Also using woodblock, Hammick’s prints revel in the hand made aspects of the process and celebrate the human touch, leading to subtle variations between prints in the small editions.

Other artists in the Biennale are embracing digital technologies in their work. Dana Ariel (Israel) uses photography as the basis for her prints. Images of tank tracks through a former military training ground in Germany are split into their CMYK colour components, before being photo-etched onto separate plates. Sun Ju Lee (South Korea) utilises digital printing onto man-made fibres, which she combines with drawing and installation to create visualisations of how people and space interact.

In addition to the work by the shortlisted artists, over 40 exhibitions and events are taking place throughout the North East, including a display of printing presses at The Discovery Museum, the world’s longest linocut at Newcastle City Library and a monoprinting workshop at Gateshead Central Library. A full list of exhibitions and events can be found on the International Print Biennale website here: https://www.internationalprintbiennale.org.uk/whats-on.html