Medway Print Festival celebrates the strong local tradition of printmaking in fine art and the wider cultural landscape. Running for two weeks across multiple sites, the festival includes over 30 events and activities to showcase some of the best printmaking being created today as well as highlighting the fascinating local history of the medium. We are delighted to include activities in 12 venues, welcoming back participants from last year as well as some new organisations for our 2nd Festival.
The programme of events has been created through a partnership bringing together many of Medways most prominent art organisations with funding from Medway Council Arts Development Team.
In 2017 the Festival coincides with the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway and several MPF17 exhibitions and events reflect this. To find out more about the Dutch invasion of 1667 and the events taking place to commemorate this visit:
Project Lead Allison Young is a Medway-based freelance curator, consultant and project manager, with over 30 years experience of producing bespoke creative and educational projects for a broad range of clients; co-ordinating high quality cultural activities, from one day workshops and complex touring events to research projects and all things in-between.
Allison currently curates Rochester Art Gallery and delivers consultancy, project management and training across the creative, heritage and education sector.
Curator Matt Bray is a practising artist, freelance curator and arts consultant with a BA and MA in fine art from the University of Kent. He has curated exhibitions for some of the areas leading artists and overseen the implementation of The Contemporary Open and Medway Print Festival. He is part of a team that has just been awarded Arts Council funding to create a major project exploring invisible illness called Sick! and is developing a PhD proposal to research how VR can enhance the traditional gallery experience for artists and curators. http://mattbrayarts.com/
Designer James Tremain Is a freelance graphic designer, based in Medway. After graduating 2 years ago from University for the Creative Arts, he has worked with some amazing clients, from local Businesses, including Sun Pier House to London marketing agencies. Now lead designer on MPF branding and promotional print material, James continues to network and build up his design practice, implementing his creative air in the Medway Towns. www.14dot11.com
The 2017 festival
The sites involved in the festival represent some of the key art institutions in the Medway area, and our hope is as the festival grows, more organisations and individuals can become a part of this exciting annual event. This year’s participating venues are:
- Rochester Art Gallery
- The Huguenot Museum
- Hazelnut Press
- Sun Pier House
- Nucleus Arts
- Rochester Cathedral
- Upnor Castle
- The Guildhall Museum
- The Brook Pumping Station
- Eastgate House
Medway Print Festival in context
by Kevin Younger
Printing is one of the more technical of the visual arts and one that has found a spiritual home in the creative post-industrial landscape of the Medway Towns. Supplied with a rich tradition of commercial printing dating back at least to the early 1800s and James Sweet’s press in Strood, it is unsurprising that an artistic tradition of etching and printmaking has grown up alongside it.
The River Medway has long been a draw for artists, with famous Victorian maritime etcher William Lionel Wyllie and late-twentieth century Rochester painter-engraver Michael Blaker capturing the riverscape’s soot and mist in their evocative etchings. And Eric Ravilious applied his sensitive, naive style of lithogaphy to depicting the bleak functionalism of Chatham Dockyard during WWII, although he found little romance in those grim times on the river.
The dockyard’s dying days saw another young artist seeking to make a strong mark with print. The ruthlessly angular ’80s woodcuts of Billy Childish were an unmistakable statement against the slick finishes and conceptual work of the time. This woodcut style was mirrored in the stark brushwork of his early oil paintings, but more recent developments have seen a more ethereal yet powerful visual language in paint and print, as evidenced by this new exhibition.
Printmaking continues to flourish in the towns with a broad community of artists, from the accessible creative hubs of INTRA and Nucleus, to the thriving studios of individual art printers, to the next generation of art students. The Medway Print Festival offers a chance to see what work is being done here and perhaps inspiration to get involved yourself.