Northern Print established the International Print Biennale in 2009 and in 2014 the third edition of the Biennale’s Print Awards welcomed submissions from over 740 artists from 42 different countries. The exhibitions across 25 venues for International Print Biennale 2014 attracted over 130,000 visitors.


When we launched Northern Print Biennale in 2009 we said that it was the first major event for printmaking in the UK for twenty years. The momentum that began in 2009 and gathered real pace in 2011 has brought about an exciting and bold programme for 2014, with new partners across the region and printmaking spilling out from the galleries and into the region with a programme of participatory events.

The Print Awards remain the centrepiece of the programme and this year we received an astounding 740 entries from countries all over the world. Our selectors carried out their task of sifting and reviewing the final artists with great care and I am pleased that the work chosen presents a fascinating snapshot of contemporary printmaking across the globe. Our selectors were also asked to each nominate an artist and we are delighted to be able to present the work of Keith Coventry; Jane Kent and Bedwyr Williams.

For the Print Awards we purposefully decided not to define printmaking and this ethos is seen throughout the programme. If someone was to ask me, “What is printmaking?” I’d no doubt talk about ink, mark-making and techniques, multiples and originals and so on.

But if someone were to ask me “What’s so special about printmaking?” I’d talk about people and ideas and how these combine to make something quite extraordinary. I’d talk about the ways of sharing ideas in both the making and dissemination of prints that are unique to this way of working. I’ve always loved being in a print studio and seeing people negotiating their way around a shared creative space and I am fascinated by what happens between artist and printer when they come together to make a new work.

It is this that gives International Print Biennale its riches; it is very much about the coming together of people and ideas. There have been some great conversations along the way and I know many more will follow these exhibitions and events. Yes, there’s plenty to talk about in terms of processes and techniques, but essentially it’s the coming together of people and ideas around printmaking that I am so excited about.

Anna Wilkinson – Director, Northern Print and International Print Biennale