Rarely-seen prints by some of Scotland's leading artists go up for sale after 'painstaking' trawl of archives

Rarely-seen work created by some of Scotland’s best-known visual artists over more than half a century is being put up for grabs – after being rediscovered in a vast archives of prints based in a former rubber factory where the first Wellington Boots were made.

The Lion by Rachel Maclean is available for £475.
The Lion by Rachel Maclean is available for £475.

Limited edition prints by John Byrne, Alasdair Gray, Rachel Maclean and John Bellany are on sale online for a few hundred pounds each as part of a celebration of Edinburgh Printmakers, which expanded onto the site of a 19th century industrial building in Fountainbridge last year.

The arts organisation, which boasts Britain’s oldest open access print studio which dates back to 1967, has been carrying out “painstaking” cataloguing of its archives since it converted the former North British Rubber Factory, where golf balls, hot water bottles and tyres were also once made.

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The sale on the Edinburgh Printmakers website, which is offering prints for as little as £220, is coinciding with the launch of its first online exhibition of work drawn from its archives.

A print of John Byrne's Moonstruck is available for £700.

Art enthusiasts are able to view and buy work by leading contemporary figures such as Callum Innes, Chad McCail , Louise Hopkins, Graham Fagen, Katie Downie, Toby Paterson and Adrian Wiszniewski.

The exhibition and sale, which are due to run until the end of January, have been put together from a collection of more than 2000 prints created by artists and the expert printmakers and technicians.

The move to the Castle Mills building, which was part of the Scottish & Newcastle brewery complex at Fountainbridge until it closed down in 2004, allowed Edinburgh Printmakers to double the size of its print studio into one of the biggest in Europe when work was completed in April 2019.

However although they were created to help allow public access to the building for the first time in its 160-year history, new exhibition spaces and a cafe have been unable to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate Downie's Blueprint for the Future is available for £360.

Highlights of its first ever online exhibition include Callum Innes’ CMW1, John Bellany’s The Barber’s Chair, Rachel Maclean’s The Lion, John Byrne’s Moonstruck, Adrian Wiszniewski’s Tate Etat.

Alastair Clark, studio director at Edinburgh Printmakers, said: "For many artists, printmaking might not be their main area of practice so they approach the process with fresh ideas and challenges for us here in the studio.

“We bring technical know-how and our own creative input when we are working with an artist on a print project.

"This partnership often brings out the best of the artists' potential. The results not only create stunning artworks, but helps push the boundaries of printmaking to a whole new level.

Louise Hopkins' Landscape with Red, Blue and Black is part of the online exhibition and sale.

“For over 50 years, we’ve benefited from a rich relationship with artists. For fans of their work, these prints can now act as an affordable way to own unique artworks from their back catalogue."

Chief executive added: Shân Edwards said: "The works selected for this exhibition are an opportunity to see how printmaking has been a key part of the practice of some of Scotland’s most well-known artists.

"From those exploring printmaking within a wider practice, with support from our print studio team, to others for whom printmaking is their central activity, this exhibition provides an opportunity to purchase original artworks and make both a personal investment and an investment in the Scottish art community.”

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The Barber's Chair was created by John Bellany in 1986.

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The new home for Edinburgh Printmakers was unveiled last year.

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