Collaboration in Practice: British Lithography 1800-2022

School of Art Aberystwyth 24 October 2022 - 27 January 2023

On show at The School of Art Aberystwyth until 27 January 2023, this exhibition presents a visual narrative of British Lithography through the lens of collaborative practice between artists and their printers – a relationship that has been typical in fine art lithography, ever since the process was first introduced in Britain in 1800.

Since its invention by Alois Senefelder in 1798, lithography has always been perceived as the most difficult printmaking process to master. The technical skill required by complexity of printing from stone, has thus not surprisingly,  required some measure of collaboration between an artist and a printer. The first collaboration of this sort in Britain took place in 1801, between Philipp André, trained by Senefelder, and artists from the Royal Academy in London. Published as Specimens of Polyautography, a total of 6 volumes each comprising 6 pen-and-ink drawings printed from lithographic stone were produced by wide range of artists between 1801 - 1807.

Over the following two hundred years significant pairings of artists and printers have contributed to the technical and aesthetic development of lithography into a sophisticated process capable of rendering chalk and wash drawing in a full range of tone and colour. Such pairings of printer and artist represented in this exhibition include D J Redman with the artist Thomas Barker of Bath; Charles Hullmandel and James Duffield Harding; Louis Haghe and David Roberts; Thomas Way and his son Thomas Robert Way with James Abbott McNeil Whistler, and those printers such as Thomas Griffits and the Devenish Brothers, who worked with members of the Senefelder Club in the revival of lithography during the first half of the twentieth century.

By the second half of the twentieth century, fine art lithography gradually became detached from commercial chromolithography with the establishment of collaborative practice based upon the Parisian 'atelier' model, by such presses such as Miller's Press in 1945, Harley's in Edinburgh in the 1950s and Stanley Jones at the Curwen Studio in 1958. Initiating a seismic transformation in contemporary fine art lithography, over 50 years, Stanley Jones worked with just about every significant post-war British artist working in the medium, including Barbara Hepworth, Terry Frost, Ceri Richards, John Piper, Henry Moore, and Paula Rego.

Contemporary studios offering professional collaboration and editioning services for artists, such as Edinburgh Printmakers, Hole Editions, Redbreast Editions, Paupers Press, Oaks Park Studio and Lemonade Press, are thus indebted to the legacy of Jones at the Curwen Studio. They have also greatly benefitted from the research undertaken at the Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, and the training of collaborative printers over sixty years, who have since set up studios or teach at colleges across Britain.

Including prints from Aberystwyth University School of Art Collection, together with further prints on loan from contemporary studios, not surprisingly, many of the artists represented in the exhibition have either been born, lived, or worked in Wales. Artists represented include  Thomas Barker of Bath (b. Pontypool 1767)  the first British artist to use lithography to print two landmark portfolios of drawings (1813, 1814); Gerald Spencer Pryse and Frank Brangwyn, two key artists who contributed to the success of the Senefelder Club; together with other more contemporary artists, including Ceri Richards, John Piper, Graham Sutherland, Joseph Herman, John Vivian Roberts, Eric Malthouse, John Elwyn,  Shani Rhys James, David Tress, Flora McLachlan and Mary Lloyd Jones (to list just a few names).

As curator of this exhibition and author of the accompanying book on Collaboration in Practice: British Lithography 1800 – 2022 , Tamarind Master Printer Paul Croft, provides an unique studio practitioner's insight into the history of lithography in Britain, and presents a view of collaborative practice that often is barely recognised, discussed or acknowledged. Copies of the book published in a limited edition of 500 copies by the School of Art Press,  are available - contact Paul Croft for further details.


This research project, exhibition and book has only been possible due to the generous support given by The Leverhulme Trust and HEFCW. I should also like to acknowledge the help and advice given by Neil Holland (Curator of School of Art Collection), Harry Hauser for his advice given on writing and structure, and to Isobel Gillan, whose design and layout of the book is superb. Thanks are also given to those artists and printers who contributted  information about collaborative practice at their studios.