21st ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION!
After all the openings, closings and re-openings of the last year or so, we are thrilled to announce that not only has Southbank Printmakers Gallery survived the rollercoaster ride, but we are celebrating an amazing 21 years since this thriving artists’ co-operative was founded.
We are marking the occasion with a group exhibition at the exquisite Fountain Gallery in East Molesey, close to Hampton Court Palace. It features some of the original founder members as well as recently joined printmakers, and covers the gamut of contemporary and traditional printmaking styles.
The show opens on 6th July 2021, and will be open every day until Sunday 18th July, with an artist present in the gallery throughout to welcome visitors.
The hanging team seen in action here are founder member Julie Sullock, Yoonjung Shim, Heather Graham, Federico Baca and Yvonne Guerrier. After such a long time it was a happy experience to meet up with other members, many of whom lingered slightly longer than is usually the case at a hang! It might look as though Federico and Yvonne are prepping a childrens' workhsop: in fact all the shops and cafes in lovely Bridge Street are decorating their windows with a floral theme. RHS Wisley’s annual flower show is currently on at nearby Hampton Court Palace, so the area around the gallery has a festive, celebratory feel.
Some of the new work has been created for the show and depicts the natural world.
The range of subject matter and styles, and the sheer quality of the work on show goes a long way towards explaining how Southbank Printmakers has flourished for 21 years.
The determination and ingenuity of the founders is also a big part of the story.
In the year 2000, a small group of printmakers who were already members of Greenwich Printmakers Gallery (also still thriving!), led by the redoubtable Jennifer Ronay were looking for a new opportunity. A steering committee formed to make it happen, including Jenny, Theresa Pateman, Pip Carpenter, Trevor Price and Mychael Barrett, with assistance from Julie Sullock, Susie Perring, Anita Klein and several others.
Tate Modern, the London Eye and other millennium attractions were arriving to give a rocket boost to the development of the area, so Jenny put in a bid for a small space on Gabriel’s Wharf. It was a humble beginning -the first gallery was just 10 x 16 feet, and the co-operative had 30 members.
Theresa Pateman recalls ‘At the time we moved in, there wasn’t a lot for visitors to see …initially the shops in Gabriel’s Wharf were an oasis of artisan retail in the middle of a few offices, and not much else.’
Julie Sullock adds, ‘We started in a small gallery in a dark corner, where the Pieminster shop was. The gallery we are now in was previously a hair dressers’
So not quite the bustling, bohemian, artisanal area we know today, with visitors strolling into the Wharf as they wander from Tate Modern and the Oxo Tower to the Southbank centre, with its cafes, attractive shops and a cocktail bar complete with sandy beach.
Getting the premises up and running was a hands-on business at the outset. Bespoke browsers were designed, built and painted. Founder member Martin Langford remembers painting and varnishing the walls and floor on a particularly hot day, with his brother graciously helping out.
All went smoothly though until a slight blip when the first unexpected national crisis came along to dent gallery sales – the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001! Not an immediate threat one might imagine, but travel into London from the surrounding counties was severely restricted and it was tricky for a while. But the group held on, and with more members joining and sales flourishing again, the group outgrew their first tiny space and moved across to the present site.
Over the years, there have been free classes, workshops and demonstrations at the gallery and stands taken at the Affordable Art Fair and other venues. We have mounted exhibitions around the country, and on one occasion, in Germany, during the winter of 2007/8.
Jane Stothert recalls ‘We were invited to join printmakers from the Palatinate, to be held in Landau, on the borders of France and Germany.’ Maureen Sweeney instigated the exhibition along with her acquaintance Heinz Setzer.
Jane says ‘Twenty three of our artists took part. It was not only meant to be a collaboration of ideas, but also as a perception of knowledge between artist and viewer. The exhibition looked amazing.’
Jane, together with a friend who owned a large car, took the work over to Landau. This was in December 2007 - it is becoming clear that as well as the passion and commitment of the founders and long-standing members, we owe a debt of gratitude to quite a few of their friends and relatives as well.
‘The German organisers put on a wonderful celebratory meal with speeches…they even greeted us with a choir singing carols in English…and the organisers put up some of our members. We went out for group meals and tours of the area... They gave us a wonderful time.'
Clearly the good old days were pretty good, but judging by
the range and quality of work in the new exhibition, and the flow of talented
new members joining in recent years, Southbank Printmakers are in fine form today.
Right now, there is an exciting opportunity to exhibit with us. We are holding our popular mini-print competition again this year. The 2019 exhibition was a huge success which we are delighted to be repeating. Recent member Heather Graham joined after taking part in the 2019 show, so it could be well worth the effort. The call out is currently open and the closing date for entries is 11th October 2021. Full details on our website:
Our home gallery at Gabriel’s Wharf is open every day between 12pm and 4pm, 10am-6pm on Saturdays. And you can see all our members’ work on our website at any time.
We hope to see you at the Fountain Gallery for this lovely celebratory exhibition.