Printmakers Council: records

Scope and Content

  • 1. Committee 1965-2011
  • 2. Exhibitions 1966-2015
  • 3. Events 1977-1998
  • 4. Competitions and Awards 1987-2010
  • 5. Education 1981-2005
  • 6. Membership 1966-2012
  • 7. Print Archive
  • 8. Publications 1966-2011
  • 9. Marketing 1966-2011
  • 10. External Relations 1993-1994
  • 11. Administration 1987-2008
  • 12. Finance 1985-2011
  • 13. Constitution 1966-2003
  • 14. People 1994-2015

Administrative / Biographical History

The Printmakers Council, often known as the AAD/2015/8, was founded as an artist’s society in 1965, although some later documentation states the creation year as 1964. According to committee minutes of 2 December 1999 a letter proposing a printmakers organisation was actually circulated in 1961. Bernard Cheese looking back in 1997 recalled We felt that the existing societies were too narrow in their views and conservative in their outlook and let's face it dull. The explosion of work coming from the USA and our own art schools demanded an expansion of frontiers. By 1979, The Printmakers Council's stated aims included supporting the interests of printmakers, publishing a magazine containing up to date information on matters technical or otherwise affecting printmakers; supporting the work and position of printmakers in art colleges and schools, becoming a representative voice for printmaking; encouraging communication with printmakers abroad and setting members work before a wide public through exhibitions in Britain and abroad.

Early activities included exhibitions of works of members and having organised an exhibition in the USA in 1966 which went on tour – the main exhibition activity was a series of UK touring exhibitions which lasted until the early 1980s. After this period AAD/2015/8 settled down to organise five or six exhibitions a year held in a mixture of public and commercial galleries as well as part of art fairs and festivals. Exhibitions were also used as opportunities to educate the public about printmaking with explanations of various printmaking techniques often included in catalogues and exhibition literature, as well as talks and demonstrations of the printmakers craft by members running alongside the show.

In 2009, the Printmakers Council took over the organisation of the British International Miniature Print exhibition series which had been started in 1989. These exhibitions, which were not confined to AAD/2015/8 members, attracted several hundred applicants from around the world and toured at venues throughout the UK for over a year for each iteration.

In order to encourage printmaking the Printmakers Council instituted a number of prizes and membership to students at the Royal College of Art for excellence in printmaking, this was later expanded to other colleges. A trophy prize, named after Michael Rothenstein, was initiated in 1994 which was presented at an exhibition which was open to all printmakers.

An ongoing topic of interest and debate throughout the history of the Printmakers Council was how to educate the art community and the public of the originality of works created by printmakers, as a form of artist endeavour. This was also different from the prints created as reproductions of existing works. This philosophy was shown not only in the AAD/2015/8's lobbying, discussions, demonstrations, articles and introductions to exhibition catalogues but also in the propensity to include artist's statements outlining the ideas behind exhibited work. Artist statements were also collected with the information about members and CV held by the Printmakers Council , to be used for sales and exhibitions. Other debates included whether different techniques such as photography should be included as part of Printmaking.

In 1971 there was a vote as to whether the name should be changed to Printmakers Collaborative with 38 to 7 voting on favour of retaining the original name which was probably chosen to provide credibility to the early organisation when the founders were negotiating international exhibitions.

The organisation was based in a number of members studios or rented gallery spaces until the late 1970s when it moved to Clerkenwell Workshops and then to Blueharbour Lane in 2004. Although part time administrative staff were employed, the main organisation of the Printmakers Council was by the members themselves.


The material is organised by function in keeping with the order in which it was created and maintained by the Printmakers Council.

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These restrictions are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Archivist's Note

To commemorate the Printmakers Council's 50th anniversary in 2015 a HLF [Heritage Lottery Fund] grant was applied for which allowed for their archives to be professionally catalogued for the first time. It also paid for the oral history interviews [AAD/2015/8/14/2] of early members and a series of articles on the Printmakers Council launched during a 50th anniversary exhibition held November 2015 at the Bankside Gallery in London.

Whilst the majority of this collection comes from the archives kept at the Printmakers Council office, as a large number of records were destroyed in 1992, some exhibition catalogues, newsletters and minutes were donated by previous committee members Agathe Sorel, Brian Rice, Irene Scheinman, Carolyn Stafford and Joe Winkelman during the cataloguing project. There are still significant gaps in the collection as to activities, exhibitions, members and publications particularly for the period 1960s -1980s.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://

Corporate Names