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Jan Patience: The painters who experiment with fetching etchings

© Fiona WatsonJune Carey printing
June Carey printing

There’s something magical about the art of original printmaking. That special moment when an artist peels back layers to reveal an image.

For artists who are printmakers, it can be as nerve-racking as it is exciting.

June Carey is a master printmaker, who also paints. A few years ago I was having a mosey around her home studio in Stirling, and was much taken by her “accidental etchings”. In this case, when the acid used to cut into the unprotected parts of the metal surface of the plate “bled” to form a fuzzy but beguiling outline of a female nude.

June’s enthusiasm for printmaking – even happy accidents – knows no bounds. Recently, she persuaded four friends, who also happen to be well-known and well-respected painters, to join her at Glasgow Print Studio (GPS), where she is a long-term member.

June Carey – The Embrace

The result is 5@GPS in which Rosemary Beaton, Alice McMurrough, Heather Nevay and Helen Wilson join June to explore the endless possibilities of printmaking.

The exhibition, which opened yesterday at GPS, features monoprints, etchings and paintings.

June explained: “Apart from me, the others hadn’t done etching before. Helen tried it briefly at art school. She was shy about going to the print studio, so I told her to come along with me which also made me go every week.

“I then persuaded Heather and Alice to join. Rosemary was the last one to be coaxed to join in the fun. It turned into us having great days together; having a laugh and also creating brilliant etchings.”

The resulting work is knock-out. As June said: “They just needed to learn how to make etchings.”

One beautiful touch is that Helen Wilson, one of the best if under-the-radar figurative painters in Scotland, has included a gorgeous wee painting of June at work. It is called simply, Printmaker.

The nights are drawing in, so what better way to while away an hour than in the company of one of the UK’s most celebrated living painters? In Bridget Riley: Painting The Line (now available on BBC iPlayer), Kirsty Wark interviews Riley and a host of admirers, including Tracey Emin.“She moved art forward by about, I don’t know, 500 years, a thousand years,” says Emin, “and nobody ever gave her the right credit for that.” Amen to that.