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Arnolfini - est 1961

Arnolfini’s Writer in Residence, Melissa Chemam reflects on creative escapsim through UWE’s Centre for Fine Print Research Summer Print and Book Festival.

In these times of changes and challenges, I personally find the greatest comfort in nature, beauty, and creativity, and through kind, collective, positive endeavours.

And what is more generous than a programme to encourage artists to keep on creating while sharing their skills and knowledge with others? This is what this year’s Summer School, organised by UWE’s Centre for Fine Print Research offered us. And because of the ongoing lockdown restrictions, it was all online, meaning anybody can take part, from anywhere in the world.

There was so much in these events… Every morning, like most people, I turn to social media to feel connected. But increasingly, all I find is anger, finger pointing and disputes. Instead, in this programme all I found was generosity and talent.

The #printandbookfest festival was a huge team effort, by over thirty artists, speakers, presenters, and authors, organised by Sarah Bodman, Angie Butler, Carinna Parraman and Lizzie Field of UWE’s CFPR, with support from the Arnolfini.

The generous collaborators recorded and broadcast insightful and entertaining talks, activities, workshops and displayed a ‘food for thought’ ethos, encouraging us to better ourselves, share experiences or simply to start learning a new skill.

All the talks are archived on the CFPR website, meaning there is still chance to join in.

CFPR Print and Book Festival #printandbookfest
Monday 20th July – Monday 3rd August 2020


Among the series were free talks, readings, Q&A sessions and conversations on printmaking, artists’ books, poetry, publishing, academic writing, wellbeing and more. Presenters and contributors include Beneficial Shock (Phil Wrigglesworth and Gabriel Solomons in discussion); The One Poem Artists’ Books Library is OPEN (Jeremy Dixon reads Hazard Press, with a live Q&A); Jason Urban & Leslie Mutchler In Conversation with Angie Butler; LCBA Collage Challenge summer holidays postcard Wish I Was Where; talks by Cecilia Mandrile, Corinne Welch on artists’ books from the archives; Lucy May Schofield and Hilary Judd Typewriter talks…  Plus ‘Shed Talks’ by Gen Harrison, John Bently, Ian Chamberlain, Catherine Cartwright, Abigail Trujillo, Print Van Go, Pat Randle and many more.

Some of the talks discussed settings more typically associated with artists books than this sort of online context display art books’ archives, like Sarah Bodman’s Artists’ Books from the Archives talk. Sarah is Senior Research Fellow for Artists’ Books & Programme Leader for MA Multidisciplinary Printmaking at the CFPR. In her talk, she introduces three collections holding artists’ books in Bristol: Arnolfini’s archive at Bristol Archives, the Bower Ashton Library Special Collections, and the CFPR’s own collection. She shows some examples of artists’ books stored in these archives and explains the ‘Collage Challenge’ – an invitation from UWE in collaboration with the London Centre for Book Arts to participate in ‘Wish I Was Where…’.
See here for more:


One of my favourite talks was about art and wellbeing by Bristol based artist Emma Gregory. Here she talks about her experience of being an artist in relation to wellbeing, especially in our time of global pandemic. Like myself, and most of the creative people I know, Emma works freelance, (as do 77% of artists in the UK). She’s a printmaker, and also teaches, and has been focusing on building “small communities working together through time”.

In the talk, she explains very sincerely how she suffered from depression, a head injury and psychosis, which she said turned her into a very empathetic person. With the lockdown, she lost money, and exhibition opportunities… as “most artists have,” she reminds us. Many have felt isolation, some have lost people…

What she teaches us here is that we are more connected that we believe, and we must look to build resilience. Her husband is a psychologist and directed her to two websites of two organisations: Mind, and the American Medical Association.
They offer 5 ways to build resilience:

  • by reaching out to your connections, your relationships, and people you know,
  • by fostering your own wellness, in body and mind,
  • by finding purpose, learn new things,
  • by embracing healthy thoughts,
  • and, when necessary, by seeking professional help.

To get over the current crisis, Emma for instance participates in family weekly quizzes to find comfort and connection, to artists groups’ weekly meetings switched to Zoom, uses resources from TAPS: The Artists Project Space, practises pilates with her mum via Zoom, and has found purpose in volunteering. “Self-expression,” she concludes, “is exposing, it leaves you vulnerable” but it’s also liberating and a courageous act of creativity.

Listen to Emma Gregory’s talk on Artists and Wellbeing here


Another talk I loved was by Professor Carinna Parraman about ‘Choosing the Right Colour’ in ‘The Complex World of Colour and Texture’. Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the complexity of colours and how our human eyes perceive them, their links with art and the notion of colour-blindness, which challenges the idea that colours exist by themselves, instead of through the eyes of their beholders…

The talk discusses how artists are attracted to specific colours and colour harmonies in their work, sometimes returning to the same shades over and over again, and how designers create colour palettes for different media and materials, accurately specifying tones and shades.


Have a deeper look at this programme and plunge into this series of events and reflections. Dig into a world of prints, books and creativity!