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The Love of Print - 50 Years of Glasgow Print Studio  Picture: Glasgow Print Studio
The Love of Print - 50 Years of Glasgow Print StudioGlasgow Print Studio

'It must be the best documented print studio in the world'

Arts writer Clare Henry looks forward to major new exhibition at Kelvingrove

  • A major new exhibition (November 18) celebrates 50 years of printmaking at Glasgow Print Studio. Here, art critic and writer Clare Henry reveals the studio’s West End roots and her love affair with an enduring institution


So how many artists live in Glasgow’s West End? A lot. With Kelvingrove and the Hunterian Art Gallery to boot, art features here big time.

Glasgow Print Studio began in the West End in 1972 in a scruffy Victorian St Vincent Crescent flat. Fifty years on, three of the four key female founders: Sheena McGregor, Jacki Parry and Ellie Lamb, still live in the West End.

This week a major exhibition celebrating GPS's 50th anniversary opens at Kelvingrove.

It's a huge affair featuring 225 works from over 130 artists. The show also includes 'Here and Now,’ newly commissioned works by 50 invited artists currently working at GPS. They include West Enders Sam Ainsley, Roger Farnham, Jo Ganter, Damian Henry, Lin Chau, Jim Lambie, Harry Magee, John McKechnie, Toby Patterson, Jim Pattison John Taylor, Fiona Watson, Alasdair Wallace, Helen Wilson and many more.

Beth Fisher was one of the early pioneers of Glasgow Print Studio
Beth Fisher was one of the early pioneers of Glasgow Print Studio

Back in 1972, Sheena McGregor was a 22-year-old postgrad lithographer, one of the group of young GSA printmakers determined to create a Glasgow print workshop.

Jacki Parry from Australia, (later GSA printmaking prof), 21-year-old graduate Ellie Lamb, (later prof at Edinburgh) American Beth Fisher who taught night school, were the main movers, pioneers when women routinely took a back seat.

Jacki credits Beth as the catalyst. "She arrived from Wisconsin with an etching press which she was keen to share, a pivotal reason for starting a workshop.”

 

Glasgow Print Studio began in the West End in 1972 in a scruffy Victorian St Vincent Crescent flat. Fifty years on, three of the four key female founders: Sheena McGregor, Jacki Parry and Ellie Lamb, still live in the West End.

Clare Henry

 

The start-up budget was £3000, Arts Council funding £2650. Beth got GPS incorporated as a limited company on February 27 1973, and in 1974 secured £3000 - then a huge amount - from the Gulbenkian Foundation.

Jacki says: "Without Beth I doubt if GPS would have got off the ground.”

Today GPS has state-of-the-art facilities, elegant spacious galleries, and exhibitions around the world. Turnover pre-lockdown was £800k. Membership 300.

Works: Goldfinch by Damian Henry
Works: Goldfinch by Damian Henry

Fifty years ago it was all volunteers, a grassroots, informal, non-profit community where accounts involved tin boxes and a series of I.O.Us.

GPS moved to Ingram St in 1976, then Merchant City's King Street in 1988. Over the last half century it's thrived.

Celebrated

Glasgow’s annus mirabilis - European City of Culture 1990, an unforgettable 12 months which changed the perception of Glasgow worldwide - resulted in a top Print Studio turnover of £400,000. An exchange programme and growing reputation were among the best legacies of 1990. GPS’s 21st birthday in 1993 was celebrated by a major show in the wonderful McLellan Galleries.

I always loved the workshop. In 1972-3 fees were 25p for three hours. I had a key and went at night after my husband was home to babysit. I made screenprints, all strong bright colour reflecting the times. I gave one to my sculptor mother.

Clare Henry was GPS chair in its early years
Clare Henry was GPS chair in its early years

I demitted office as GPS chairman when I became Herald art critic in 1978. By the time I moved to New York and the Financial Times in 2000, I had reviewed over 350 GPS exhibitions. It must be the best documented print studio in the world.

Check it out, at www.scottishArtArchive.com. No wonder GPS has a special place in my heart.

CLARE HENRY, FRSA

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