In 2019 I decided, as a practising member of Sheffield Printmakers, to participate in the 20:20 International Print Exchange. I knew of this project but had felt rather daunted by the prospect of what I assumed would be a lot of work for small return. I wasn't sure my prints would be of sufficiently high standard but was encouraged by the enthusiasm of old hands. I and six fellow printmakers ventured into new territory. What ensued has been a revelation.
In preparation I read the information supplied:-
"The 20:20 Print Exchange was set up in 2009. In the 10 years since, the small idea has become one of the biggest print exchanges in the world with over 120,000 prints created especially for 20:20. Each artist produces an edition of 25 prints, paper size 20x20 cms. Artists submit to the exchange in groups of 10 through a print workshop,college/university department or collective group."
Volunteers at Hot Bed Press (Salford) undertake the job of randomly sorting into boxes 20 prints for each of the 10 artists. No box is the same. The first of every edition forms part of a touring exhibition. Each workshop receives a box, which it may archive or sell. In addition workshops are twinned and exchange boxes thus helping raise awareness of other groups and promoting national and international links.
I was unused to producing an edition of 24 but the process wasn't too demanding and our group met the deadline and posted our
submission. Just before Christmas we were rewarded by the arrival of a large box, containing our individual boxes. Of course we had to celebrate with tea and cakes!
It was such an exciting process examining and exclaiming over our "finds". My own collection included work from British artists but also pieces from Moscow and elsewhere in Europe. Some wished to "do swaps" but I was captivated by all of my allocation.
As a participant I can only say that the whole experience has been hugely rewarding. The process of entering was straightforward and involved a collective response - achieved with efficiency and economy. I paid a modest £10 to enter as part of my group team. We have appreciated each others work and that of those much further away - all working to the same ends whether student, gifted amateur or professional artist. As a medium, printmaking allows those on modest incomes to access high quality work. In this case we exchanged randomly in a spirit of trust. If we wish to contact a fellow participant we can follow up. The venture affirms that across the globe the creative spirit is alive and very much kicking.
This year's tour will start at West Yorkshire Print Workshop, Mirfield (22nd February-4th April). It will continue nationally and across the world. Look out for shows in Hong Kong and Moscow! At some point I would like to see Sheffield hosting the exhibition. What could be more appropriate "20:20 in 2020?! "
Please do spread the word about this inspirational scheme.
Should you wish to know more see: