Printfest in Schools
We were thrilled to collaborate with Printfest in Schools, a fantastic project which helps to inspire the next generation of printmakers.
In this article, Printmaker and Teacher Esther Benson, tells us all about the history of Prinfest in Schools, the printmaking that they have been undertaking in schools, and their plans for the future of the project.
History of Printfest in Schools
For over 20 years Printfest has championed printmakers and the original hand-made print by putting on a weekend festival at The Coro in Ulverston. It is now branching out, hoping to inspire the next generation of Printmakers who may, in years to come, be applying to exhibit their own work at Printfest.
This venture started in January 2022, with a short timeline, Lorraine and Esther had to be quick off the mark to make sure there would be school work to display at the end of April. They invited local school children to produce hand printed artwork in response to the brief “Earth, Water and Air”. 14 schools jumped on board and, even with quite short notice, produced a spectacular display.
The Brief for 2023
Preparations for 2023 followed quickly on from the 2022 event. Artist Gail Mason had been chosen as Printmakers’ Printmaker, her bold use of colour in her fictive landscapes were perfect for the next brief.
Mason’s work inspired teachers and pupils alike with 23 schools signing up immediately to get involved. Esther ran a workshop on mono screen printing for secondary school teachers. Funding was secured for 3 Primary School workshops and they teamed up with Essdee, who kindly sponsored the work with schools. The whole project grew quickly.
Workshops in Schools
One of the biggest challenges schools face is not having the resources to deliver printmaking lessons. Essdee stepped in proving packs of printmaking equipment to be delivered to all participating Primary Schools as well as resources for the workshops.
The Primary School workshops saw Esther, a Secondary School Art teacher and Artist, running two full afternoon printing sessions in 3 Primary Schools. With the aim to give the children the chance to have a go at new Printmaking techniques, build teachers confidence in delivering printmaking and producing work to be displayed at Printfest. Instructional video to be used in the classroom were added to the Printfest Website as the Printfest in Schools page also grew.
In addition to the Primary workshops there are plans to deliver workshops for secondary school and further education tutors to develop and refresh their printmaking skills to take back into the classroom.
Lorraine works closely with schools in the local area as an Inclusion Manager, working with over 50 schools – Infant, Primary and Secondary, Colleges and Alternative Provision providers across the Furness and South Lakeland areas. A Printfest in Schools distribution list has been developed to ensure that art leads and teachers receive information including how to participate in Printfest and to provide regular communications throughout the year.
Young Printmaker of the Year
This year has seen the launch of the Young Printmaker of the Year awards. Printfest in Schools were delighted to work with Gail Mason to select an individual submission for primary and one for secondary. The individual winners will be awarded their Printfest 2023 certificates in their respective schools to celebrate their achievement with the wider school community.
Essdee wanted to support the Secondary Schools that got involved, Katy and the team got their heads together and decided a block printing class set would be the most useful as secondary schools have the standard equipment but the single use materials like this Mastercut (Essdee’s easiest lino type material to carve) are harder to afford.
The Printfest Exhibition Weekend
In the weeks leading up to the Printfest weekend the work really started for Lorraine and Esther. “We visited each of the 23 schools, collecting all the wonderful work they had produced. We then had to sort and produce labels for each piece of work so it could be displayed professionally in the The Coro over the Printfest weekend. It took two whole days to hang the work produced by over 600 pupils. A range of Educational settings got involved from Special Schools, Youth Projects, Primary and Secondary Schools from a range of areas, producing prints using a wide variety printmaking techniques from gelli plate to lino and screen printing.”
A number of printmaking workshops are held during the event and funding was secured for 2 free teacher places in each workshop, with skilled tutors offering instruction in range of techniques from Paper Lithography and Letter press to tetra pack printing.
During the event is was brilliant to see the reaction of the visitors to the school work. To see the young people come to see their work on display.
One young person said “My project for Printfest was great, once I was looking at my artwork in the gallery, it shone right in front of my eyes and I enjoyed it throughout the experience”
Another said “I like how Printfest gives young artists an opportunity to be seen”.
One teacher said “The children get the opportunity to work to a brief and have their work displayed in a gallery. It gave our children a sense of achievement”
The number of young people visiting Printfest increased by 200% this year giving a clear indication that this work with schools is having an impact.
Going forward we hope to create an opportunity for class visits to see the school work on display and this may mean holding an extra exhibition. The whole project has grown so quickly and promises to keep on growing with the support of companies like Essdee and further local funding it is exciting to think what Printfest in Schools can become.