Issue date: 31 July 2001

The idea of an international forum for fine-art printmakers has gathered force since the first IMPACT conference was organised by the University of the West of England two years ago. UWE initiated this series of international conferences, and in August this year the meeting will take place in the northern setting of Helsinki's University of Art and Design, in Finland.

Around 400 professional artists, curators, collectors, academics and print historians will exchange knowledge about the latest developments in the world of fine-art printing. Also being revived are older techniques that had almost died out, but are being re-established thanks to digital technology.

"Bristol is an internationally recognised centre for printmaking research," said Stephen Hoskins, director of UWE's Centre for Fine Print Research. "Much of this work is based on the re-interpretation of old techniques."

Entitled 2nd IMPACT, the conference will look at the relationship between traditional craftsmanship and modern technology. It will reveal how the basic working methods of thousands of years ago - such as woodblocks - can be used in present day image editing. Another important theme will be photography. According to the organisers, contemporary printmaking is hard to imagine without the marriage of photography and the hand-made print. The setting for the conference - which includes a trip to find out about printmaking in Tallinn, Estonia - will ensure that a northern and Nordic perspective is given full expression.

As well as artists and delegates from Iceland, Scandinavia, Russia, and Lapland, print specialists from South Africa, Australia, America, and Japan will be there to add to the richness of the collective experience.

According to Stephen, printmaking has grown as an educational discipline in Higher and Further Education in England since the last conference. "The revival of interest is such that in the two years from 1999 to 2001, the number of students on the MA printmaking course has increase from four to nineteen people."

As well as Stephen, UWE researchers attending from the Faculty of Art Media and Design's Centre for Fine Print Research will include Carinna Parraman and Paul Thirkell. Carinna will present the results of her research into Preserving the Identity of Digital Prints, and with Paul Thirkell will take part in panel discussions on A Changing Aesthetic in Contemporary Printmaking. Paul will also be presenting a paper on A Reappraisal of the 19th Century Woodburytype Process for High Quality Digital Output and Stephen Hoskins will be presenting New Methods of Ceramic Print for both Digital and Autographic Process.

Presentations for the 3rd IMPACT conference will be made - so far interested hosts include Australia, South America and Scotland. It is hoped that subsequent IMPACT conferences will contribute their own indigenous perspective to the event and expand the printmaking discourse.

Further information can be found on this summer's event at: www.uiah.fi/conferences/summeracad/impact


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