Map of Stockport

Over the weekend, I took part in a large drypoint print workshop with a small group of artist/printmakers.

My objective was to create a large map in drypoint depicting landmarks of Stockport. I had never printed anything larger than about a3 size in print form before and my last large print was a drypoint of the viaduct using a metal plate. This time around, the printing plate would be flexible plastic sheeting which was 75 cm x 55 cm in size.

I decided on the idea of a map sometime ago and knowing that a 2-day large printmaking workshop was going ahead, I ensured I booked a place as soon as I got the notice.

I began by prepping the map by creating a printed template in reverse that I had sourced a day before the workshop. I used a combination of Photoshop Elements and PowerPoint to tile the large map and print off sections onto manageable a4 paper prints so I could tape them together afterwards.

On Saturday, day 1 of the workshop, I added reversed text and images of landmarks which I etched into the plate using etching tools from roulettes to diamond point tools to get different textures and patterns.

Printing plate 75 x 55 cms

I placed the template I had created underneath the plastic printing plate while I etched the design onto the plastic.

The process took me approximately 9 hours to prepare the plate (1.5 days). I had to carefully placed where all the text and images of the landmarks would go.

Finally, on day 2, I could ink up and print my plate with the assistant of my friend Alan Birch, using a large etching press which we had hired out for the day from an artist studio down the road in Waterfoot, Rossendale called ‘Valley Studios’ only a few minutes travel from Prospect Studios.

I created an artist proof print (AP) using cartridge paper and then managed to print off my first good print on Fabriano paper.

I reckon there are another seven prints I could produce from the plate before it wears out.

The process was long and challenging but the results were very pleasing indeed and well worth the time taken.

Here are some photos taken of the printed map.

Map of Stockport (Proof drypoint on cartridge paper)
Map of Stockport (close-up)
Map of Stockport (close-up)
Map of Stockport (close-up of title)

Pyramid print

‘The Pyramid’

This is an etching aquatint print I created early on in the project which I seem to have not shared before in this blog.

I used a combination of printing inks with black ink printed first, then leaving the remaining black ink on the plate, I then inked up blue ink and printed again to get the desired effect of deep dark shadows and lines with the black ink and light highlighted areas with blue ink.

Mersey river etchings

On Saturday, I completed my print of the Mersey river and Regent House etching aquatint. Here are two versions of the print; one in black ink and the other in sepia.

April photo walk

I received an email reply from the organiser of the Cotton-on-Manchester open exhibition which I recently submitted work to. The rejection email was pretty upbeat. They offered me feedback on the two etching prints I submitted which were from this project and also to have my work displayed on their exhibition website as a consolation, which sounds good to me.

Recently, I learnt that Stockport Art Guild will be hosting their 100th annual art exhibition from Thursday 20th May to Friday 16th July 2021. I still haven’t decided what I will be submitting to the centenary exhibition. I may experiment with a mixture of paint and printmaking techniques for my submissions.

I managed to submit two digital artworks for Stockport’s Giant Leap Ahead project; one for the NHS, and one for the Eco frog. Not heard any news as yet, but reckon there was a lot of competition in the designs submitted.

At the end of next month, I will be resuming my visits to Prospect Studios to continue working on my etching print series for the Stockport In Print project. It will be my first visit since autumn of last year. Social distancing and precaution such as wearing face masks and the installation of clear plastic screens will still be in operation. I hope to continue where I left off with my last etching depicting the river Mersey.

The other weekend, I continued my photo walks around Stockport and this time I have captured ‘The Blossoms’ pub which is on the A6 main road which is south of the town.
During my visit, I took many photograph’s of the pub and also a few of the abandoned pool hall directly opposite which used to be a cinema in it’s heyday. Below are a selection of photographs taken on the day.


Spring into action

As the clocks go forward and spring is finally here, I have decided to take part in some local art events to keep me busy.

I recently applied by submitting two of my prints to the ‘Cotton-On-MCR’ open call. This is an open exhibition at the Saul Hay gallery in Castlefield, Manchester running between April and May. Hopefully I will be successful, fingers crossed.

Yesterday, I decided to take part in the Stockport’s Giant Leap Ahead project to submit designs for frog statues on various themes such as ‘Frog the builder’ or ‘Music frog’.

On a different note, I have been working this month on preparing images to use for future etchings which I hope to complete this year.

I have also recently, creating various sketches of the Arden Arms pub which I hope to use as inspiration for my next print. Here are a few images.

Sketch of Arden Arms pub
Sketch of Arden Arms pub

February photo walk

The sun was out, so I decided it was a good opportunity to go on a photo walk around parts of Stockport this afternoon. From the images I took with my digital SLR camera, I have selected the following to include in this month’s blog post. I had a plan of where I wanted to go and figured out a route which would take me past each building so I was in easy walking distance of each location.

My list building to visit included Strawberry Studios, founded in 1968 by Peter Tattersall and Eric Stewart, where the likes of musicians such as pop group 10cc, Paul McCartney and Neil Sedaka recorded their hits.

Strawberry Studios Stockport photo
Strawberry Studios Stockport on Waterloo Road.

There’s a blue plaque on the front of the red bricked/grey painted building which mentions artists that visited the studios back in its heyday.

Strawberry Studios Stockport blue plaque
Strawberry Studios Stockport blue plaque

I decided to climb a rough patch of ground opposite the building in order to get a good vantage point so I could take a face-on photograph. Trying not to squash the bluebells and daffodils in the process, I managed to take a small selection of photos.

My next subject was Stopford House which is in a southerly direction from the former studios towards London road and just off Edward street down Piccadilly.

Stopford House
Stopford House

Stopford House which is the local council civil building for the borough of Stockport, is an imposing mid-1970s building made of concrete patterned reinforced slabs and uniformed windows. It looks like something out of a spy film set in Eastern Europe.

Back 2006, the hit BBC TV crime drama series ‘Life on Mars’ was filmed in the courtyard to act as exteriors for a police station in the programme. The drama follows Sam Tyler who is involved in a car accident and ends up in 1973. A sort of time travelling cop drama with humour mixed in.

Stopford House
Stopford House

The courtyard itself looks a bit neglected and covers a large area stretching up to the town hall.

My last building to photograph was Stockport Masonic Guildhall on the main London Road (A6) opposite Stockport College. Built in the late 1860s, this Victorian red bricked building has some lovely exterior features such as the stone carved window frames and crest of arms. The hall is now a conference centre.

Stockport Masonic Guildhall
Stockport Masonic Guildhall

From the images I took today, I hope to create prints in the coming months, which will hopefully capture the look and character of the buildings.