Highland Print Studio

Inverness town centre can be a busy, busy place. Joseph Peach tells of a little gem you should keep your eye out for next time you are wandering along the river...

The Highland Print Studio sits on Bank street in Inverness, I’ve walked past it countless times with no real idea of what it was, or how many different projects they have going on. It’s a really vibrant creative place which hosts a range of artists in residency, workshops and classes.

It’s an open studio, which means that anyone can learn to use the printmaking facilities and access the sunny, creative space to make their own artwork. The studio provide a range of workshops for all ability levels, in traditional printmaking techniques including screen printing and wood block carving, as well as cutting edge techniques such as polymer photogravure, which combines photography and adobe Photoshop with printmaking. It’s possible to see the stunning results of all of these techniques in the gallery on the Print Studio’s website.

One of the studio’s most successful projects has been Wise Guys- with perhaps a slightly unexpected group of participants. Research from organisations like Age UK has shown that older men don’t engage with social activity to the same extent as women, which in certain circumstances increases the risk of loneliness and isolation. Through Wise Guys, a group of older men came together to get involved with the Highland Print Studio: Learning to use the equipment and a range of traditional printmaking techniques. For many, this was the first time they’d engaged with visual arts. Participants included: A retired farmer, anaesthetist, TV engineer, excise man and Free Church minister.

Alison McMenemy, Director of Highland Print Studio told me: “Research shows that older men have difficulty finding activities that are appealing to them. We now know that printmaking and its emphasis on working with materials, tools and equipment (along with a whole load of biscuits), is the thing that gets their creative juices flowing.”

On completion of the course, many of the Wise Guys have continued to use the studio, one has even gone on to build his own etching press. They’ve given presentations at Luminate Festival receptions, appeared on BBC Radio Scotland’s Culture Café and many have had their work featured and sold at exhibitions.

About the project, one of the Wise Guys- Richard MacKenzie said: “Although I’ve learnt many skills in my life, I didn’t have anything to do with the artistic side and had never made anything that wasn’t purely functional, so to do something in art is entirely different for me.  I think people would be surprised at how good the work we produced was.  It’s amazing how far we came in only three hours’ tuition a week.  The more I do the more I want to learn, so I’ve kept on doing it.  I’ve invested in my own printing press and set up space in my artist wife’s studio.  I’ve exhibited my prints at several local exhibitions and have another coming up in August.  The Wise Guys programme has given me entirely new skills and a whole new direction to follow, making artwork that is completely my own, that I’m proud to see on the wall. There’s a great team at Highland Print Studio and I’ve made many new and valued friends.”

It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the Print Studio. The range of projects, classes and exhibitions they run is forever being updated, it seems to me like there really is something for everybody!

For more information on the studio, check out their website: www.highlandprintstudio.co.uk