Norwich printers make their mark

Since it's inception the Norwich Print Fair has become one of the best loved independent shows selling contempo-rary, original, hand-made prints in the region. SIMON PARKIN reports.

For two weeks every September, Norwich Print Fair fills St Margaret's Church with a diverse range of artworks produced by some of the region's best artists.

Since it's inception in 1995, the annual event has become one of the best loved independent shows selling contem-porary, original and hand-made prints.

This year celebrating its 16th anniversary, the fair's popularity has grown immensely. From the eight artists who took part in the first exhibition, printmakers now number over 40, with approximately 30 exhibiting each year.

Attendance has also steadily increased with visitors and art buyers coming from not just Norwich, but increasingly from across East Anglia.

Norwich Print Fair has proved such a success in fact that it has spun off into several related exhibitions.

In 1998 the Fair held its first exhibition outside East Anglia at The University Club in Oxford. In 2005 it hosted its first taster exhibition at the Forum in Norwich, and since then has had several successful shows entitled 'Print Fair Elements' which aim to showcase some of our most popular printmakers. And last year, organisers held their first ever show in London, at the prestigious Bankside Gallery.

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The annual exhibition is free and is now held at the deconsecrated St Margaret's Church, on St Benedict's Street, which has been refurbished as an exhibition space.

This year it takes places from September 5-17 and will once again features the artwork of some 30 of Norfolk and Suffolk's most exciting printmakers, including a wide variety of hand-made print disciplines.

Among those taking part include Colin Bygrave, whose work features natural scenes, typically field and hedge-rows, Rob Barnes, who produces colourful coastal scenes, and Clare Johnson, whose pixilated images of local landmarks, including St John's Cathedral have been reproduced as postcards.

On the two Saturdays during the event, September 10 and 17, the exhibition also hosts an 'open portfolio days' in which the artists bring along extra work and sketchbooks.

These 'days' have proved very popular with the public in the past, giving visitors the opportunity to meet the art-ists who are happy to talk about their inspiration and techniques.

And after a hugely successful experiment last year, on Sunday, September 11 there will once again be a unique chance for visitors to see the printmakers in action, with a selection of artists demonstrating their techniques live in the gallery.

Also this year the popular Mini Print Raffle — for the chance to win specially commissioned work — will again be run.

n Norwich Print Fair runs at St Margaret's Church Gallery in St Benedict's Street, Norwich, from September 5-17, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm, free admission.

n Printmakers in Action takes place on September 11, 11am-4pm.