IMPACT8 – Boarders & Crossings the artist as explorer

International Printmaking Conference & Print Festival Scotland took place in Dundee 28th August – 1st September 2013

Impact 8 Dundee

I was very lucky to be sent by Double Elephant Print Workshop to Dundee for IMPACT8 with my colleague Simon Ripley and our collaborator Josh Gaunt from Workshops n’ Docs.

Simon was there to deliver an illustrated talk on behalf of Double Elephant about the Printmaking on Prescription project and other community work with Double Elephant (more on that latter); and together the three of us delivered an outdoor drop in workshop Printmaking and Animation – more about that later too.

When Simon and myself visited the first ever IMPACT International Printmaking Conference in Bristol in 1999, we had only been running Double Elephant for less than two years. To be honest, I felt quite out of my depth surrounded by academics and established printmakers using very cleaver academic language about aspects of printmaking that I had yet to think about.

IMPACT stands for ‘International Multi-disciplinary Printmaking, Artists, Concepts and Techniques’ and was thought up by Richard Anderton and Professor Stephen Hoskins when they realised there was no international forum specifically for printmakers. The intention for IMPACT has been to create an academic forum whilst maintaining a showcase for print practioners.

After the first IMPACT conference in Bristol (UWE), the conference travelled around the world as follows-

  • 2, 2001 = Finland
  • 3, 2003 = South Africa
  • 4, 2005 = Germany
  • 5, 2007 = Estonia
  • 6, 2009 = Bristol again
  • 7, 2011 = Australia
  • 8, 2013 = Dundee

The first IMPACT conference was a pretty big international event with approximately 80 people contributing academic papers, illustrated talks demonstrations etc.

And IMPACT8 was HUGE! With an excess of 30 seminar groups where 3 or 4 academic papers/illustrated talks were given at each; 18 Themed panels; innumerable exhibitions spread over 50+ venues; 5 Keynote talks; Performances; demonstrations; folio presentations; public street printmaking event; etc and don’t forget the Ceilidh.

And if you would like a few more facts and figures, there were 450+ delegates from 33 countries…

There was no way anyone could do it all…

Difficult choices had to be made…

I was very happy with my first choice of seminar session The Printmakers Eye – and it remained one of the highlights of the conference for me. Robert Jackson (Print Studio Technical Instructor at Dundee Contemporary Arts) gave a fascinating talk about “Human-computer interaction: Exploring eye-tracking as a drawing methodology for print artists with disabilities”. It was wonderful to see how technology was being used to enable printmakers with restricted mobility to be able to continue to produce artwork under their own control. See here for an abstract of his talk if you want to know more.

In the same session David Lyons who while appointing himself as “graphic designer for the blind” found that he was trying to answer a question that wasn’t being asked. Embracing this apparent ‘failure’ he continued to be influenced by Braille and went on to produce a stunning body of work systematic investigating sensual expressive printmaking, concentrating on the issues surrounding Braille as a printmaking design element. I haven’t been able to find any online pictures that do the resulting prints justice – but there’s a good write up here

The third speaker was quite hard to follow – but her subject matter was fascinating. Marina Mangubi (from the Department of Art and Art History, The College of Wooster, Ohio,) delivered her paper Neuroscience and the Printmaking Method.

This looked at the analytical process of deconstructing an image in terms of its formal features and reconstituting it via printmaking techniques in layered matrices. I found it interesting that the brains of artists, who were given a drawing task, exhibited greater tendency to use structural mapping of familiar objects part of the brain, whereas the brains of control subjects, asked to perform the same task, used areas of the brain that get used for naming and categorizing rather than analysis of form.

Bearing in mind that this was just one of the seminars available – if you want to explore what you’ve missed take a wander around the IMPACT 8 website

Impact 8 Dundee
Simon & the Print Community Initiatives panel

Our Simon Ripley delivered his talk about Double Elephant’s Printmaking on Prescription as part of session 28 Print Community Initiatives. There’s a short abstract of his talk here and all I’ll say was that he did us proud.

For more on POP and a link to an excellent short film see Double Elephant website




Impact 8 Dundee
Printmaking & Animation

Other than trying to soak up as much of the latest innovations in printmaking as possible, making new contacts and connections, and sampling a range of whiskies, we were also there to deliver an outside, drop-in workshop – Printmaking and Animation. This we did with Josh from Workshops n’ Docs . Lovely sunny weather for an outdoor workshop – though the wind was rather challenging (hence the wine bottle paper weights). We had a steady flow of interested printmakers keen to see their mono print efforts turned into animation before their very eyes!

….and here’s the results  Printmaking & Animation at IMPACT8, Dundee

Simon and Josh also attended seminars with a film and animation theme and discovered that no one else seems to be doing quite what Double Elephant is with Printmaking and Animation. Most tend to take their prints and digitalise them before creating the animation from the print as source material. What Double Elephant does is to create a more analogue animation via the process of creating a series for prints, and only then is it mediated through digital media.

Another highlight for me was a tour around the DC Thomson print works. DC Thomson are famed for publishing the Dandy and the Beano as well as numerous more serious newspaper and magazine publications. Here are just a few snaps I took.

DC Thomson
DC Thomson
DC Tompson
Here comes the papers
Ink cartridges!








And one particular exhibition really stood out. ‘Proof’: Art + Forensics = A Groundbreaking Residency’ by Beatrice Haines.

Proof is an exhibition of prints and installations inspired by artist Beatrice Haines’ residency at the University of Abertay Dundee’s forensics lab. The exhibition aims to reveal the invisible, whether it is minute detail too small for the human eye to see or prints left from the surface of skin.”

Her use of forensic materials and techniques to reveal mark making in a printmakerly approach was simply genius.

The next IMPACT International Printmaking Conference takes place in China in 2015 – fancy going???