The North East’s own centre for original printmaking, Northern Print has been working with The Lumen during this year’s lockdown to curate a permanent collection of original fine art prints for the flagship building.
The arts sector like so many other sectors has really struggled during the Covid Pandemic and Northern Print was hit hard when it had to close its Ouseburn gallery and studio back in March.
Reflecting upon the closure, Northern Print’s Director Anna Wilkinson said,
“We are normally open week-in-week-out throughout the year - working with artists, amateurs, schools and community groups to make prints. Our Studio and Gallery is normally filled with light, colour, conversation and a creative hum - so switching off the lights and locking the doors seemed a strangely unreal experience.”
Although the staff team worked from home to keep printmaking activities going for studio users by working remotely it did not fill the financial hole left by closing the building so the commission to provide The Lumen with original prints came at a time when it was really needed.
Working with The Lumen has been a hugely positive experience for Northern Print. The theme of ‘light’ was of course an uplifting one at a time when we all need to feel hopeful. Whether this is the light of scientific innovation, the warm glow of a safe space or the natural beauty of light in a landscape - all the work selected has at least one of these qualities.
Moreover, the project has offered a lifeline to Northern Print. As a registered charity we receive an annual grant from Arts Council England - but we also need to ‘top up’ this funding with earned income. We usually do this from our studio and gallery in Ouseburn by teaching classes and selling artists prints. With these options gone during the lockdown, working with The Lumen really has been critical to our continuing stability.
This project has not only helped Northern Print through the most extraordinary of times it has also been of huge value to freelance artists. Many artists lost teaching work, long-planned exhibitions, and other projects as a result of the pandemic. It was wonderful to be able to develop a programme of commissions, alongside purchasing artwork when other opportunities had vanished. We know that the artists have really valued the focus that this project also gave them. The newly commissioned films being shared online are also helping to profile their work.
We have now reopened the studio and gallery, albeit with new ways of working and reduced capacity, but the lights are back on thanks to this successful partnership with The Lumen.”