Following their recent move to new premises in Castle Mills, we caught up with Edinburgh Printmakers about how they are settling into their new space, the former headquarters of the North British Rubber company in the city’s Fountainbridge.
The facilities include an enhanced open access print studio, traditional and digital processes, a dedicated learning space, artist accommodation, art galleries, a shop, a creative industries hub, café and print archive. Castle Mills is one of the largest printmaking facilities created for artists in Europe.
The building was once the largest industrial unit in Edinburgh employing over 5,000 people. During the First World War the Ministry of War, conceived the Wellington boot and The North British Rubber Company worked 24 hours a day, producing over one million pairs of boots for soldiers in the trenches.
Chief Executive of Edinburgh Printmakers, Shân Edwards said: “We’re delighted to welcome visitors to our new home at Castle Mills. As an arts organisation breathing new life into an industrial building and making it accessible and welcoming to the public is part of our vision for the future. This former hub of industry and innovation will maintain those roots now as a creative hotspot in Edinburgh.”
Architectural firm PagePark led the re-design project at Castle Mills and worked collaboratively with Edinburgh Printmakers to create a fully accessible building that would work best for members, audiences and participants. A key feature of the former premises at Union Street had been the bright, open plan spaces and keeping a sense of lightness was crucial in designing the new building. At Castle Mills, two spaces are joined together so the building is quieter with less noise pollution and doesn’t feel overwhelming. Another key feature in the redevelopment was providing space for people to socialise. The kitchen space, then, is the central hub which gives people a chance to come together in different ways. “Facilitating learning and sharing of creative practices is as much as what we’re about as much as printmaking,” says studio director Alistair Clark.
The move has been more than five years in the planning and the main initiative was to give the whole organisation more flexibility about how they operate. Edinburgh Printmakers now have two galleries instead of one and a dedicated learning studio so are able to run more courses. In their previous premises there had been tension between artists needs and running courses. As more people are have become interested in printmaking, there was a difficulty in meeting the increasing demand for facilities. Alistair says: “A lot of the new interest in printmaking is actually about the older, more traditional presses.” Edinburgh Printmakers are trying to meet the current demand but allowing for future flexibility .
Moving to a new space has also allowed the Printmakers to provide new facilities. Now they have nearly twice as much space in their open access print studio and can better meet the demand of members. It wasn’t just about numbers, though, but about providing a quality of experience. There is now more working space around the presses, which the organisation hopes will give space to the creative part of the printmaking process. The new space has also allowed the organisation to grow their facilities, including multiple new presses and an extra-large etching press that can be used for wood cuts and lithographs, as well as new digital equipment. A new dedicated learning studio will give the organisation more capacity to expand their course programme, providing more courses for adults and even courses for children, which they weren’t able to do before.
For full details on Edinburgh Printmakers facilities, exhibitions and courses can be found on their website here.