West Yorkshire Print Workshop

Clare Phelan | Kate Desforges | Nigel Morris | Theresa Taylor

West Yorkshire Print Workshop Project Space – Unit 2, The Piazza, Huddersfield HD1 2RS

15th January – 19th March 2022

Global anxieties and concerns associated with disaster have been the lived experience of 2020. How and why have we continued to make art? Although we know something of how this singular moment in time has affected our world individually, this exhibition seeks to present an open-ended conversation and experimental dialogue as shared experiences are revealed in our art work

“I had two important things before me; my Business and Shop; which was considerable, and in which was embark’d all my Effects in the World; and the other was the Preservation of my Life in so dismal a Calamity, as I saw apparently was coming upon the whole City; and which however great it was, my Fears perhaps as well as other Peoples, represented to be much greater than it could be.”

Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year

“2022 marks 300 years since the publication of Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. The novel is a fictionalised account by a survivor of the last great ‘visitation’ of plague in London in 1665. The narrator, who decides to remain in the city while others (with means) leave, provides a detailed description of life and death in the face of an epidemic, and there is a remarkable resonance and relevance to our own situation over the past couple of years.

This exhibition brings together four artists who have continued to make art – ‘carrying on… (their) business’ – in the shadow of Covid 19. The pandemic has put particular pressures on many lives and livelihoods. The threats to physical and mental health, of economic hardship and limitations on resources and workspaces have impacted on artists. Whilst this is not a display of artworks ‘about’ a pandemic, it emerges from within it.

The staging of this exhibition has been affected by circumstances around Covid. Conceived over two years ago, the project was shelved for twelve months because of restrictions last year, and its focus has changed. Artists have continued to make work, but the collaborations and discussions have been curtailed and socially distanced until now.

Many artists are accustomed to working in isolation, but most have the need to engage with others to share ideas, elicit feedback, and present the results of their endeavours to an audience.

Each of the printmakers in this exhibition has developed their practice over many years, pursuing areas of interest with rigorous investigation and experimentation, drawing on observations of the visible world filtered through subjective experience and imagination. Much of the work employs languages of abstraction, from geometric structures to gestural mark making, with the printmaking process key to the final production. There is a constant dialogue between the image (which might include elements of outmoded industrial technology, glimpsed in-between spaces of urban or natural landscape, or the symmetry of constructed shapes and lines) and the evolving processes of using ink, paper, plate, screen, roller, press, etc.

There are other threads of connection between these artists: reflections on experiences of time; feelings of anxiety and distance; of being in control or not in control; of continuing to research and develop ideas despite the pandemic or acknowledging its influencing presence and effect.

Art can offer a resistance of hope – perhaps even in times of ‘so dismal a calamity’. In these challenging times this exhibition brings us together at a particular moment. The artworks now have the chance to converse which each other”.

Exhibition Introduction by Martyn Lucas
WYPW Exhibition Coordinator