Edinburgh Printmakers opens its new home to the public on Saturday 27 April following the £11 million redevelopment of the former North British Rubber Company building in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh.

The new Castle Mills space has been designed by architects Page Park. At 2194m2 it is more than double the size of Edinburgh Printmakers’ previous base on Union Street. The three-floor building includes an enhanced open access print studio with traditional and digital print facilities, a learning space, artist accommodation, two galleries, a shop, café and print archive.

Members of Edinburgh Printmakers will have access to the top-floor studio and printmaking facilities while the flat will be used by visiting artists when undertaking residencies.

The Castle Mills building is owned by City of Edinburgh Council and work began in 2012 to restore the former industrial site. The development of the building forms part of wider council redevelopment plans for the Fountainbridge area of the city.

In its industrial heyday the listed building, originally built in 1870, was part of a site that employed 3,000 people. In 1916 it began production of the rubber Wellington boot, conceived for British soldiers during the first world war. More recently, Castle Mills was used as a store and accounts office by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries.

The building’s history is reflected in the main opening exhibition by Thomas Kilpper, ‘The Politics of Heritage vs The Heritage of Politics’. The German artist has covered the floor of the gallery with rubber, into which he has carved a series of overlapping relief prints. These feature people associated with the site as well as images reflecting local politics, celebrities and industry.

Also included is a dancing Theresa May, Kate Moss in Hunter boots, Donald Trump and a group of German politicians pondering Brexit.

In addition to the Kilpper exhibition, the building’s other gallery presents a series of works from Edinburgh Printmakers print collection by the organisation’s Artist Patron Callum Innes.

Chief executive of Edinburgh Printmakers, Shân Edwards, said: “We’re delighted to welcome visitors to our new home at Castle Mills. As an arts organisation breathing new life into an industrial building, making it accessible and welcoming to the public is part of our vision for the future. As one of the largest print studios in Europe, Edinburgh Printmakers will be an international destination for artists and enthusiasts alike.”

She added that the new site “will allow Edinburgh Printmakers to extend its work as a leading arts charity, bringing together artists and visitors to offer everyone a direct experience of printmaking. Where once Castle Mills was known for manufacturing innovation we hope our spaces will be creative communities that lead with our knowledge and heritage, innovate through our practice and ambitions and welcome the wider world to art.”

The Castle Mills site includes three permanent artist commissions which are integrated into design fabric of the building. Rachel Duckhouse has designed distinctive entrance gates in powder coated galvanised steel; artist Calum Colvin and architects Suzy O’Leary and Peter Smith have produced the kaleidoscopic EPscope; and Mark Doyle‘s Catalogue Wall is a glass fibre reinforced concrete wall inspired by North British Rubber Company product catalogues.

Edinburgh Printmakers was established in 1967 and is the oldest open access print studio in the UK. Funding for the development of the Castle Mills building has included £4.5 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Scotland and £598,000 from Historic Environment Scotland, with contributions also coming from the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and trusts and foundations including Garfield Weston Foundation and The Hope Scott Trust.

Edinburgh Printmakers opens to the public on Saturday 27 April. To mark the opening free tours will take place over the weekend between at 11am, 2pm and 4pm. www.edinburghprintmakers.co.uk

1. Edinburgh Printmakers at Castle Mills, Dundee Street entrance. Photo: Jules Lister
2. Edinburgh Printmakers, Printmaking Studio. Photo: Jules Lister
3. Thomas Kilpper at Edinburgh Printmakers. Photo: Neil Hanna Photography
4. Edinburgh Printmakers, Castle Mills, Gilmore Park entrance. Photo: Jules Lister
5, 8. Edinburgh Printmakers, Gallery 2 featuring prints by Callum Innes. Photo: Jules Lister
6. Edinburgh Printmakers, Castle Mills, Heritage Staircase. Photo: Jules Lister
7. Edinburgh Printmakers, Printmaking Studio and the Bartholomew Press. Photo: Jules Lister

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