No wonder John Mackechnie is busy printing when I call and call again. As an artist and Director (for the last thirty years) of Glasgow Print Studio (GPS), he’s well placed to know how artists work, not only that – he takes a hand in printing their works.
GPS has just announced the auspicious list of artists taking part in its 40th anniversary exhibition 40/40: forty years, forty artists. A stupendous 1,620 new prints will arise from the commissions for forty new print editions and a limited-edition print of twenty that Adrian Wiszniewski, one of Scotland’s pre-eminent painters, has designed to promote the exhibition.
Wiszniewski is one of the forty artists, alongside high profile veterans such as Turner Prize exhibitors Jim Lambie and Martin Boyce, and newer and long-standing GPS members and collaborators Claire Barclay, John Byrne, Scott Campbell, June Carey, Rachel Duckhouse, Kenny Hunter, Bruce McLean, Toby Paterson and Sue Tompkins.
“I made a big long list to start with – it’s a hard call,” says Mackechnie on the final shortlist who were invited after much discussion and consideration amongst the GPS board. A tall and diplomatic order indeed, given that during GPS’s forty-year history thousands of artists and illustrators have passed through its doors, with the current membership standing at over 250.
When I speak to him, Mackechnie has just come from printing one of the thirty eight artist’s editions being created on site. Artists were given a year’s notice, but as Mackechnie understands, often things happen last minute. He describes the balancing act of directing this burgeoning artist-led institution and remaining a practitioner – in fact, he took a ten-year break – returning to art making on his 50th birthday. Having recently been awarded the Royal Academy’s London Original Print Fair Prize Mackechnie is suitably one of the artists creating new work for the studio’s anniversary, as are two of GPS’s founding members Philip Reeves and Jacki Parry.
Born out of a west end flat in 1972 GPS has moved over the years, settling into its current three-storey King Street location since 1988. Its history is dynamic and evocative of many a make-do post-graduation founding tale of the artist-led space. Observing the lack of printmaking facilities in Glasgow and under the guidance of Philip Reeves, a lecturer at Glasgow School of Art, a group of young graduates found their own solution and have never looked back.
Forty years on, the studios have evolved into an internationally acclaimed centre for print, with light airy exhibition spaces, state of the art facilities and skilled master printmakers on hand. This impressive longevity highlights an ongoing need for artist’s print resources in the city and there appears to be something of a renaissance: “There’s been a big influx of younger artists again, over the last few years,” notes Mackechnie, “Printmaking is proving to be very popular.”
The exhibition launches 23 August and runs until 13 October 2013. Prints will be available via Glasgow Print Studio’s online shop. Edition prices range between £300 to £2000 approx.