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Collective workshops began to appear in Quebec in the 1960s. At the time, the École des beaux-arts de Montréal was training the next wave of artists, particularly in Albert Dumouchel's printmaking workshops. Young artists saw him not just as a teacher but as a cheerful, energizing presence. With his wealth of experience garnered in the workshops of Europe, Dumouchel introduced them to a new world, different from the prevailing order in Quebec.
Richard Lacroix and Pierre Ayot were Dumouchel's young technical assistants. Lacroix, aware of how hard it was to practise printmaking outside institutional workshops, opened the Atelier libre de recherches graphiques in 1964.
During the student strike of 1966, Pierre Ayot, then a professor, and two other printmakers1 decided to make their equipment available to students who could not use the print workshops because they refused to cross picket lines. With that move, Atelier Libre 848 was born, named for the workshop's address in a basement facility on Marie-Anne Street. In the communal spirit of the times, the artists paid $15 a month and received in return a key giving them round-the-clock access to the equipment. This same philosophy prevailed even after Atelier Libre 848 became Graff, a graphic design centre, in 1970. This original approach, based on the sharing of facilities, was repeated in other parts of Canada, with the establishment of St. Michael's Printshop in St. John's, Newfoundland, and the Open Studio in Toronto, as well as the Dundarave Print Shop and the Malaspina Printmakers Society in Vancouver.
The artists' books shown here are intended to provide a portrait of the works produced in regional and local workshops across Quebec. They were selected based on the connection between the principal idea behind the work and the final product.
For more than 40 years, Graff has been dedicated to producing prints and researching various printmaking techniques. One of its main goals is to provide a dynamic centre where professional artists can create their works. As a result, some 60 artists of all ages and from many aesthetic backgrounds have unlimited access to an array of workshops dealing with computer technology, serigraphy, lithography, intaglio and relief printing. The artistic community also benefits from an annual program of activities, including meetings between artists, specialized training, collective projects, artists' residencies abroad, and collaborations between artists and printmakers, that promote communication and research into contemporary printmaking.
In addition to this main focus on research and creation, Graff has also set itself the goal of encouraging public interest and involvement in contemporary art. The centre offers regular demonstrations, instructional workshops, and introductory and private courses for a wide range of audiences, including school groups, students and adults. The centre also presents ongoing exhibitions.
Livre d'heures: millénaire 3, siècle 1, décennie 1, unité 4, envoyé
In the style of medieval books that marked the hours of the day, the Livre d'heures offers an interpretation of how people now view the pace of time. Produced by five artists from different backgrounds, the book is in the form of a codex and its visual unity is derived from a unique process that uses digital technology to inscribe and print the set of images. The pages open in a way that creates a kind of overlap between the "printed space" of each artist, thereby renewing their original interpretation.
Engramme is a self-run artists' centre that has been dedicated to promoting original printmaking for more than 30 years. It continues to encourage the revival of printmaking as a preferred visual art form. In particular, Engramme supports the development of all printmaking techniques through its five workshops: intaglio and relief printing, stone or plate lithography, traditional or UV serigraphy, and digital printing. Engramme's production and presentation activities provide many opportunities to develop new skills while continuing to explore printmaking traditions. Through its programs such as gallery exhibitions, artists' residencies, research grants and publications, Engramme provides a special look at current trends and the range of artistic research taking place in the world of printmaking.
The expression "code white" is an emergency signal used in hospitals to request immediate assistance when a person is behaving in an aggressive and potentially uncontrollable manner. Code blanc is a compendium of imaginary diseases invented by the artists.
Since its establishment, the Atelier de l'Île has focused on research, creation and production in contemporary printmaking, ranging from traditional to digital techniques. It is open to artists from all disciplines who want to make printmaking and printed art part of their works. The Atelier is designed as a focal point for artists to work together, learn from each other and exhibit their prints. In fact, printmaking as well as education and the sharing of knowledge is at the heart of its activities. The Atelier is dedicated to encouraging solidarity among artists, stimulating the creation of collective and individual works, fostering communication between members, defending their collective rights and nurturing the spirit of creativity at this artistic centre. The Atelier provides artists with a facility featuring specialized, properly maintained equipment and technical support when required.
Since its establishment in 1978, the Atelier de l'Île has welcomed artists in residence each year, whether they are in early or mid-career, or accomplished professionals. The Atelier supports these visiting artists as they take a creative sojourn and find a source of renewal, inspiration and stimulation among the other members.
The arrival of the new millennium was "timely" to the creation of L'autre heure…, a collection of 17 leaflets produced by 17 individual workshop members, which contains common quotes concerning time. To present their vision, the artists turned to timeless colloquial expressions.
Presse Papier is a contemporary print workshop. Many of the artists working there have flourishing careers and are recognized in the world of printmaking. But the member artists are not solely printmakers; they are involved in a range of artistic endeavours. Presse Papier also features exhibition space for contemporary artworks from the Trois-Rivières area, Quebec, Canada and around the world. This exhibition space enables Presse Papier to promote and demonstrate its openness to all forms of visual arts.
Through its establishment and ongoing presence, Presse Papier has been a catalyst in the rapid development of culture in the region. Over the years, other artists' groups have become established in the visual arts and other disciplines; in addition, several artists have seen their careers expand nationally and internationally. Presse Papier has become interwoven in the cultural and social fabric of the region. The workshop is a focal point and a valued ambassador, and its projects generally meet with success wherever they are presented.
La collecte is a tour de force that brings the works of 275 artists from five continents together in one container. Using the number "2" as its theme, the project establishes an international visual dialogue, highlighting the similar interests that bind artists around the world. The final project was presented to the 22 participating countries and assembled in mural form in each location. The Festival International de la Poésie in Trois-Rivières selected five authors from five different continents to represent the text-based aspect of the project.
1 Jean Brodeur and Denis Lefebvre.