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Handsome prints – the art of printmaking at City College Peterborough

Handsome prints – the art of printmaking at City College Peterborough 1 2 3 4

↑ Students at City College Peterborough, and some of their work

Most of the students on Eddie Butterworth’s printmaking course at City College, Peterborough, joined her class with simple ambitions – to engage in a hands-on, creative activity purely for fun, or to explore an artistic side that they perhaps had not had the time or opportunity to develop. Now, several are thinking of going into business, and one has found national success with work on show at the V&A – at the age of 82. TOBY VENABLES reports

‘I just felt I had a real need to go and play, to go and do something artistic,’ says printmaking student Susan White. Now in her 50s, Susan had always been interested in doing something creative, despite years working in the public sector as what she calls ‘a pen pusher’. ‘Maybe I should have gone into textile design or something like that when I was a teenager, but I ended up being a civil servant instead, which is very boring!’

The college was only five minutes from where Susan worked, and she worked flexible hours, so she took the plunge and started a printmaking course with Eddie. ‘It was very therapeutic. You would think it would add more stress, but it didn’t – it actually helped me. I was doing something that maybe I’d had in the back of my mind for about 30 years.’

‘It’s quite exciting, looking at maybe setting up a website, attending craft markets, branching out into cards or notepads, some soft furnishings, too!’

Despite having to put those early artistic ambitions on hold, rediscovering them in Eddie’s classes showed that creativity to be entirely undimmed. ‘It’s funny,’ she says, ‘because I was clearing out the loft the other day and I found old drawings which were very similar to what I’m doing now, it’s just there’s a 40-year gap in between!’

Susan now prints primarily on fabric, and when a friend – who had an aptitude for sewing – suggested they get together, that ‘play’ started to take on another new dimension. ‘It started as therapy, but through the course it’s ended up with me thinking that we might be able to make a bit of a living from it. They haven’t launched yet, but are already making products, and hope to be selling by Christmas. ‘We’ve got bags and cushion covers, simple prints, simple patterns and colours, some with animals on, like swallows, magpies or greyhounds. I’m not into fluffy and cute, though, they’ve got to be a bit medieval, a bit dark – heraldic animals, things like that.’ She may branch out into paper products, too – origami, lanterns, what she calls ‘pocket-money toys’ as well as the more expensive items. ‘Just watch this space, really! It’s…

Handsome prints – the art of printmaking at City College Peterborough 1 2 3 4

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