A Study In Stone, Tarpey Gallery

Sadly, many art colleges and universities are getting rid of their lithography equipment due to lack of space and expertise, but at one centre the opposite is true.

The Leicester Print Workshop is one of the few remaining places in the UK to be able to offer the process to artists as a viable and exciting way of making prints.

In collaboration with the print workshop, five of those artists have come together to present A Study in Stone – an exhibition of stone lithography at the Tarpey Gallery in Castle Donington.

Serena Smith who is leader of the Lithography Fellowship at the workshop has curated the exhibition and four graduates will be exhibiting alongside her. They are Mandy Payne, Soraya Smithson, Katherine Desforges and Nina Óskarsdóttir.

Although they all approach this extraordinarily technical and time-consuming process with very different aesthetic sensibilities and subject matters, their work is united through their passion and dedication to this time-honoured medium.

“The Lithography Fellowship is a project that has grown out of my own journey through the process and practices of fine art lithography,” explained Serena.

“By its nature this is a printmaking medium that is technically complex and demands a high level of commitment from those who wish to learn.”

Lithography was invented in Germany, in the early 19th century by Aloys Senefelder while he was experimenting to find a cheap method of reproducing music scores.

It differed from all other known methods of printing at the time by making use of the chemical principle that oil and water do not mix.

Lithographic stones are made from limestone, the surface of which is ground down to a fine grain using different grades of grit.

The stone is then drawn or painted on, using materials that contain grease. When applied, the grease from the drawing materials creates a water-repelling image area. When the drawing is finished, gum arabic is then applied to the stone, which creates a water-retaining, non-image area.

Lithography can produce an extremely wide and diverse range of marks – from very light subtle tones through to deep, rich, velvety blacks.

For the exhibition Serena will be displaying work from her extensive catalogue.

Mandy Payne has for the past five years been exploring Park Hill in Sheffield, a Grade II listed council estate and one of Britain’s largest examples of Brutalist architecture. Mandy has continued to explore the same subject in stone lithography, frequently collaging them on to squares of cast concrete as a metaphor for the estate.

The works that have been selected by Nína Óskarsdóttir for the exhibition are expressive and show a range of different topics that all have common ground within the medium of the print.

Soraya Smithson’s work focuses on the representation of women and the female form within society.

The work that Katherine Desforges will be exhibiting will look at, experience, and notice the ordinary, the everyday, and the overlooked.

A Study in Stone will be at the gallery  until October 22.  For more details go to http://www.tarpeygallery.com