This unique exhibition, which runs from 7 Feb to 15 June at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery presents a selection of folios from the Bradford’s print collection. Guest curator Professor Paul Coldwell, University of the Arts, London, will be blogging during his time with us on the show. Look out for updates!
I was delighted to be invited to work with Sonja Kielty, Curator of Exhibitions and the wonderful print collection at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery to develop this exhibition. It came about from a belief that the print folio is not only a form for presenting a group of work but also reflects contemporary printmaking practise more truthfully than the individual print seen in isolation.
While at its most basic level the folio represents a convenient way of marketing an artist’s work particularly to specialist collectors, it also provides a means of ensuring that a set of work is kept together in perpetuity and can be read and interpreted as a whole concept. In this way, the print folio can be best understood by considering the variety of ways that popular music albums are produced and marketed. There are albums of unrelated songs by a single performer, albums featuring songs connected to a theme, such as love or protest, there are ‘greatest hits’ albums etc,etc. But there are also albums where the individual tracks are embedded within an overall idea or proposition, the aptly named concept album such as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. So while individual songs from any of these albums still resonate as a single experience, something extra is added by understanding it’s role and place within the whole.
Researching the exhibition we uncovered some real treasures, including a folio of original lithographs by LS Lowry and a folio of drypoints of ‘Landscapes of War’ by William Rothenstein in 1921, studies made on the Somme in the First World War where he went as an official war artist. It is fitting, in this year that marks the centenary of the outbreak of war in 1914 that we have an opportunity to present these powerful and moving prints.