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New Ways of Seeing: Printmaking as an Introduction to University Part 3

By Mohammed Rahman, on 27 May 2020

This post is the third in a series on the Printmaking Project, which is part of an outreach programme for secondary schools and colleges in east London. It is written by Taylor Jack Smith, Slade School of Fine Art graduate 2018.

Taylor providing students feedback on a test print during an outreach workshop.

Hello, I’m Taylor and I’ve been co-delivering Day 2 of the UCL East Printmaking Project for two consecutive years now, along with fellow Slade graduate Isobel Napier. I feel strongly that art is an essential component of a good holistic education. It often opens up opportunities for students that may have struggled with other subjects through exploring their creative intelligence. I myself struggled with dyslexia throughout school, art opened up opportunities for me to articulate my thoughts and ideas in a direct way.

Our printmaking programme encourages school students to develop confidence and creative potential. Within the workshops, technical drawing or printmaking ability are secondary to the ways in which students feel they personally challenge themselves and develop their skills. This approach is delivered through a mix of demonstrations and one-to-one feedback, prompting the students to actively make creative decisions about the outcomes they want to achieve, as well as a process of trial and error.

Isobel Napier, Slade graduate 2018, using a press with a pupil.

Dry point etching is often a new medium for many of the students, and we encourage them to experiment with it. We expand their ideas about what a successful print can be, look to loosen up drawing styles and engage with the material process of printing. Throughout the day you can often see a real progression with student’s approaches. Maybe at first they can be slightly apprehensive or too precious over their original drawing. By learning to adapt to the materiality of the process and thinking instead more about mark making and the application of the ink they create different, sometimes more experimental results.

Pupils ink their drypoint plates made with  guidance from the Slade graduates.

The overwhelming majority of students we work with are highly motivated, with many wanting to pursue art further, and we aim to facilitate this the best we can. However, arts education and specifically these kinds of programmes also encourage confidence and creative decision-making in all participating students.

The workshops typically start with a brief introduction, followed by brief group demonstrations of the process. Once the students have a good gauge of the process we’re in a position to give more one-to-one advice, and engage in conversations around each student’s ideas and work.

Pupils are given lots of artistic freedom to expand their skills and styles.

Depending on the class dynamic, the workshops can be quite free rein, the students pursuing their own ideas with Isobel and I guiding and encouraging them throughout the course of the workshop.

The Printmaking Project is part of the UCL East School’s programme run by UCL Culture and supported by the Access and Widening Participation programme.

Read the first and second blog posts in this series.

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