Archive Blog and 'Baker to Bartlett' exhibition

28 October 2016

Our Archive Team volunteers have been busy! Read our blog article by past student volunteer, Chloe Aspden, here.

We also have the review below of our current 'Baker to Bartlett' exhibition, which has been written by one of our new undergraduate Archive Team volunteers, Cecilia Monteleone:

This year’s annual display of artwork from the RBSA Collection is on show in Gallery 1 until Saturday the 12th of November 2016 and is entitled ‘Baker to Bartlett: The Changing Face of RBSA Printmaking’. It focuses on printmaking and features stunning prints made by past and present Members and Associates of the RBSA, such as Samuel Henry Baker, Robert Ball, and Paul Bartlett. The exhibition is also part of the Society’s first ever Printmaking Festival, which has also included workshops and events throughout the year.

As soon as you open the door to Gallery 1, you are immersed in a world of printmaking. The exhibition contains a range of different prints from the Society’s Collection, but also includes several examples from local private collections. The variety of styles, techniques, subjects and periods highlights the talents of local artists, as well as the evolution of printmaking within the West Midlands over the years. In fact, by covering a broad spectrum of printmaking, the exhibition provides something of interest for both print enthusiasts and those new to the medium. 

One of the solar-plate etchings in the exhibition that particularly struck me is ‘Julie 2’ by Paul Bartlett, which was made in 2011. The life-like representation of the nude encourages the viewer to look closer and appreciate the careful detail of every line. The artwork is an excellent example of solar-plate etching, which is an eco-friendly etching technique that uses sunlight and water instead of more hazardous grounds, acids, and solvents.

Paul Bartlett. Julie 2. 390

Paul Bartlett, 'Julie 2',2011, solar-plate etching, © The Artist.

Throughout the exhibition there are numerous depictions of landscapes, and one of my favourites is ‘Avebury Church’ by James Bailey (1922 - 1999), which demonstrates a very different use of etching. This curious work was made in 1975 and represents a church setting with strange, sketched-out figures. For me, the crowded composition, church, and dark tones suggest that the viewer is looking in at a funeral. In addition to the sombre atmosphere of the print, I like the further ambiguity created by the use of sketchy patches of tone rather than sharp and clear outlines.

James Bailey. Avebury Church.390

James Bailey, 'Avebury Church', 1975, etching, © The Artist's Estate

Overall, ‘Baker to Bartlett’ is a small but perfectly formed exhibition that champions a wide range of local printmaking talent and provides an excellent tour of the many ways in which artists have used and developed printmaking in their work during the last 200 years. Be sure to visit before it closes on Saturday 12th of November at 5.00pm!

Cecilia Monteleone
Undergraduate Archive Team Volunteer 2016