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Print: down to fine art

PRINTMAKING IS being reintroduced to two secondary schools in Cumbernauld, thanks to the Glasgow Print Studio.

Cumbernauld High and Our Lady's High have each an artist in residence until the end of the spring term, working on print techniques with pupils in S1 and S2, as well as Higher and Advanced Higher students.

The 20-week pilot project, entitled New Editions, was awarded pound;28,000 of Lottery funding through the Scottish Arts Council, topped up by North Lanarkshire Council's education department. It aims to promote fine art printmaking in schools, through collaboration with contemporary artists.

Pamela Robertson, education co-ordinator at Glasgow Print Studio, says: "We wanted to put together a project that would celebrate contemporary printmaking, merging new and old techniques."

Professional artist Helen Fay, who works predominantly in etching, is in residence one day a week at Our Lady's High, while Ian MacNicol has been working with Cumbernauld High.

At Cumbernauld High, the first and second years have been exploring the architecture of Cumbernauld, influenced by the work of Mr MacNicol, who has set up etching facilities in the school. The project fits in with the built environment area of the curriculum. Next year, some of the pupils will learn how to print on Perspex, making sculptural creations.

S1 and S2 pupils at Our Lady's High are working on a project based around their journey to school. The results are colourful, structural silkscreens incorporating urban and rural landscapes. Pupils have created photographic screenprints, rather than stencil screenprinting which is more commonly used in schools.

Higher pupils at Our Lady's are making large self-portraits using wood blocks, cutting away the block as they print to build up layers of colour.

"It's something they haven't done before," says Ms Fay.

Her Advanced Higher pupils use the medium to enhance their own work, which includes designing and screenprinting fabric; making orchid etchings and creating an installation piece using black and white images.

One pupil is creating a complex, colourful "Andy Warhol-style" silkscreen piece, based on a photo of herself and a range of hats.

The project will culminate in a summer exhibition showcasing the work at Glasgow Print Studio and Cumbernauld Town Hall. A DVD resource is being produced by a Glasgow educational production company, nuArts.

The pupils recently spent a day in the Print Studio's workshop.

The art teachers at both schools also spent a day at Glasgow Print Studio, to gain a solid grounding in the techniques.

"It's about embedding printmaking within the curriculum," says Miss Robertson. "A big part of that is teacher training, so teachers are confident to use the skills once the artists have left the schools."

The Glasgow Print Studio hopes to do a similar project with North Ayrshire next year.

* Designs on learning The Glasgow Print Studio provides outreach workshops in schools that enhance the 5-14 curriculum. These are available in techniques such as paper stencil screenprinting, monotype printing, lino cut, woodcut and press printing. Activities focus on themes and learning contexts. Projects can also be developed for nursery level and senior pupils.

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