In 1991 The Artists' Press opened its doors in Newtown, Johannesburg, under the direction of Tamarind Master Printer, Mark Attwood. The Artists' Press started as a lithography studio providing artists in southern Africa with a workshop dedicated to the production of limited edition hand printed lithographs. Since its inception the press has grown steadily and today offers a variety of print processes to artists as well as publishing and selling original prints and artists books. In 2003 The Artists' Press relocated to a farming area just outside of White River in Mpumalanga. In the purpose built studio the press now offers lithography, letterpress, intaglio, mono-printing and relief printing. Mark Attwood is the director of the studio and is the Master Printer. He has worked in the printing field since 1981, apprenticing in his father's print shop (The Broederstroom Press), and later trained in hand printing at Lowick House Print Workshop (UK) and at Tamarind Institute (USA). Printer, Joseph Legate joined the press in 1999 after completing his secondary school education, and plans to get an internationally recognised qualification in lithography once he has completed his apprenticeship. Assistants, Knowledge Lebyane and Selby Msimang, joined the press when it moved to White River.
The Artists' Press is a small studio dedicated to offering artists the very best in personal attention. All work printed at the studio is done by hand. We use acid-free paper and the most light-fast inks available, taking the utmost care to ensure that the work is of the highest possible standard. We belong to the South African Paper Conservation Group, and continually strive to improve the quality of our prints. All editions are carefully curated and documented. Once editions have been printed and signed, the plate or stone is defaced thereby preserving the integrity of the edition and ensuring that no "second editions" can be printed. Documentation sheets are available, on request, for all editions printed at the studio.
The Artists' Press has been internationally recognised for its contribution to developing the culture of printmaking in Africa. The studio has initiated and taken part in a number of exciting international and regional projects. These have included collaborations with the Kuru Art Project (Botswana). Most notable of these is the publication of Qauqaua (the first book written in a San language, as told by the San and illustrated by San artists and bound in traditionally tanned goatskin). Qauqaua was selected in 2001 for the "Voyages Exhibition" of the Smithsonian Institute Libraries and was listed by the Grolier Book Club as one of the top ten highlights of the exhibition.
The Ultimate Safari, a short story written by Nobel Prize laureate Nadine Gordimer, was illustrated by Mozambican refugees living in South Africa and poignantly illustrates the need for peace and co-operation as a prerequisite for development. More recently letterpress was used to print reproductions of drawings done by former president Nelson Mandela.
Work printed by The Artists' Press can be found in numerous private and corporate collections around the world. Public collections include: The Smithsonian Institute, Bodleian Library (Oxford University), US Library of Congress, Johannesburg Art Gallery, University of the Witwatersrand Gallery Collection, Botswana National Museum and Art Gallery, South African National Archive, Museum of Modern Art (New York), University of Cape Town, Winterthur Library (Switzerland), Durban Art Gallery and Yale University (USA). The studio uses two chops; these are MA (Mark Attwood's initials) and TAP which are the initials of The Artists' Press. These have been assembled to reflect the form of a hand litho press as seen from the side. All prints produced at the studio are embossed with either one or both of these chops.
To provide artists with the opportunity to collaborate with a master printer to produce original prints of the highest quality.
To introduce visual artists to lithography as a new medium.
To work with artists from marginalised communities to offer them new opportunities and to promote their work through the collaborative process.
To contribute to the development and expansion of art in southern Africa by focussing on excellence.
To contribute to ongoing research and the development of printmaking techniques together with printmakers from around the world.
To introduce global audiences to South African printmaking.
The following artists have made prints at The Artists' Press: