The Right Impressions

Contemporary British Art In Print will be the first exhibition of over 300 prints produced for The Paragon Press by some of Britain’s most exciting artists. Lila Rawlings discovered where it all began in the daydreams of an enterprising Edinburgh undergraduate nine years ago.

f Charles Booth-Clibborn invites you back to his place to take a look at his etchings. you’d be well advised to go. Since l986 he has been commissioning British artists to produce prints using a variety of techniques ranging frotn bold lino cuts to

video and computer originated screenprints. With a list of artists that

would make even Maurice Saatchi‘s head turn. The Paragon Press constitutes one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of work by British artists. Anish Kapoor. Bill Woodrow. Peter Howson. John Bellany. Rachel Wliiteread. Grenville Davey. Richard Long. Damien Hirst and the list goes on.

An undergraduate in history at Edinburgh University in the 1980s. Booth—Clibborn was more likely to be found in art galleries or looking for first editions of illustrated books than studying for his finals. It occurred to him that many artists. from William Blake with his Book of ./()l) to Henri Matisse who created his Jazz series 120 years later. had been inspired to produce portfolios of prints because of the potential it offered for combining images with text in a new and exciting way.

The burgeoning of Glasgow‘s figurative movement in painting in the early 1980s. together with the proximity to Edinburgh of some of the best print studios in the country. set the stage for a major print project that would. according to Booth- Clibborn, ‘capture a certain energy and national excitement‘ specific to Scotland at that time. With no money but bucket loads ofenthusiasm. Booth-Clibborn approached a Scottish artists and writers with the idea that was to become The Scottish Bestiary. Nineteen poems written by Orcadian George Mackay Brown and twenty prints by seven artists (Campbell. l-lowson. Wis/.niewski. Bellany. Redfern, Knox and McLean). are brought together in a book that has been described as ‘probably the most ambitious fine print project made in Scotland this century‘. Printed by The Peacock Printmakers studio in Aberdeen. The Scottish Bestiath is a collection of screenprints. etchings. woodcuts and lithographs. all with an animal theme. An instant success. the project enabled Booth-Clibborn to set up Paragon Press and to work with artists and printers in the independent way he had imagined. ‘I tend to take a back-seat approach when commissioning artists. The only specification 1 have is that the work can fit into a cab. since portfolios move around a lot and l have to be able to carry them! Most artists are very keen to work on a project and have their own ideas of how they want to work. My role is to facilitate them and to match them up with the printer who will relate best to

number of

Eagle Print by John Bellany from The Scottish Bestiary, 1986

the work and has the right experience and technical brilliance.’

Since setting up Paragon Press in 1986, Booth-Clibborn has commissioned on average live projects a year. Hot on the heels of his initial success came The London Portfolio including work by Rachel Whiteread. Craig Wood. Mark Quinn and Damien Hirst and aimed to ‘present the work of a range of young artists

working in diverse ways. to create, as it were. a portable group show‘. This collection enabled galleries and museums to buy and exhibit work by a range of artists who had already become prohibitively expensive in the international market. Other solo projects have included series of prints by Grenville Davey. Bill Woodrow. Alan Davie and Anish Kapoor. Booth- Clibborn’s commitment to Scottish artists and printers has meant that artists such as Ken Currie. Peter Howson. Hamish Fulton. John Bellany and Adrian Wiszniewski have all produced excellent work for Paragon Press that is now exhibited all over the world.

For many of the artists. a commission from Booth-Clibborn offers them both a chance to explore further the ideas and themes already present in their work as well as the possibility of using new techniques and materials. This was certainly the case with Turner Prize-winning sculptor Antony Gormley. In his Paragon Press portfolio Body and Soul commissioned in 1990. Gormley actually pressed various body parts (guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows at Edinburgh’s Gallery of Modern Art) into softground metal plates to leave a series of '; impressions that play on the theme of inside/outside space.

The work produced by Paragon Press is amongst some of the most exciting and vibrant visual art to come out of Britain in the last ten years. Anyone who thinks of print~ making as a poor relation to painting or sculpture should think again. This collection is proofthat Britain has a vital visual culture that is very much alive and kicking.

Contemporary British Art In Print, Scottish National Gallery ofModern Art, Edinburgh, 25 Feb—30 Apr. Charles Booth-Clibborn will talk on ‘Publishing Paragon ' on Mon 2 7 at 12.45pm.


shark and a sheep.

Edinburgh EH1 TTE

Catalogues and Posters to be Won

The List has five copies of the catalogue to the exhibition of Contemporary British Art in Print available as prizes. The catalogue has nearly 500 illustrations and will be on sale at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art at the special price of £17.95 during the exhibition (£22.50 after 30 April). There are also 10 runner-up prizes of a poster bearing an image by Damien Hirst.

All you have to do is write the answers to the questions below on a postcard and send it in to reach us by Friday 10 March. The winners will be the first correct answers drawn out of a hat.

1. The winner of the 1994 Turner Prize features in the exhibition. Who is he? 2. An artist featured in the exhibition was recently Britain’s Official War Artist in Bosnia. Name the

3. iiarne the artist featured in the exhibition who is famous tor exhibiting dead animals, including a

Answers on a postcard to reach us by Friday 10 March to: British Prints Comp, The list, 14 High Street,

The List 24 Feb-9 Mar l995 13