Photogravure: An Early Photographic Printing Process With A Modern Twist

Led by Dr Peter Moseley
Course Duration: 5 Days
Date: 6th – 10th September 2021 (9.30 AM – 4.30PM each day)
Location: Frenchay Campus

Book your place here:
Full price registration: £749.00
Concessionary price registration: £599.00

Photographic printing processes from the mid and late nineteenth century offer a wide variety of printed surface, colour and texture that differ markedly from the clean, sometimes almost sterile appearance of modern digital images. The early photographic processes (aka alternative photography) require a real hands-on approach in the choice of paper, chemistry and coating, and provide every opportunity for the printmaker to produce individual and beautifully aesthetic work. The photogravure process was developed in the 1870s and became famous for the beauty and quality of its gravure prints. This is real, put on a proper apron and roll up your sleeves, printing. In outline, the process involves etching a photographic image into a plate which is then inked and put through the high-pressure rollers of an intaglio etching press sandwiched with handmade or art paper. Prints can be produced using special inks of any colour.

Originally the process involved etching the image into a copper plate, but there is a modern equivalent that is somewhat more manageable. A photosensitive polymer plate is exposed to ultra-violet light under a translucent acetate copy of the original image or photograph and then washed out in water. Where the plate has been protected from the light by dark parts of the acetate it remains soluble in water and these areas will be removed; where the plate is exposed to light it becomes hardened and these parts will not wash away. After it has been dried, the plate is covered in ink and then the surface ink removed by careful wiping. Ink remains in the lines, grooves and hollows, where the unhardened polymer has been washed away, and it is the ink in these depressions that forms the image when the plate is put through the press in contact with dampened art Paper. It’s quite a performance but well worth the trouble, prints made by this method can be stunning.

This five-day course will introduce course delegates to all the key aspects of the process including: · Calibrating polymer plate exposure · Producing the digital transparency · Exposing, washing out and hardening the polymer plate · Preparing the paper, inking the polymer plate and pulling the print · Drying and protecting the print Delegates will be able to make gravure prints from at least three of their own photographic images, using film negatives, photographic prints or digital files. This course is suitable for beginners and no prior experience of intaglio printing or Photoshop (a computer program for editing digital images) is required. All materials will be provided.

About: Dr Peter Moseley

Dr Peter Moseley is an experienced photographer and printmaker, principally using the techniques and processes of the nineteenth century, including photogravure, platinum, salt and albumen, carbon transfer, kallitype and cyanotype printing. 

Peter has an MA in Printmaking from the University of Brighton and currently is Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England where he gained his PhD. He has had work shown at national and regional galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Society of Painters-Printmakers. 

He is an experienced and qualified teacher and has taught photography/printmaking workshops at universities, colleges and print centres in the UK and in Russia and China. He has been teaching summer programmes at UWE for a number of years now.

Peter’s current focus involves making portraits, primarily of older people and older bodies. His works aim to depict the strength and fragility, and the humanity and life experience of his subjects through the portrayal of their skin and fragments of their bodies. He uses the materiality and haptic of prints made using early photographic printing processes to articulate the surface, depth and texturality of his subjects.

The course price includes all materials and catering.

Courses will be held at UWE Bristol. The course is limited to a maximum No: of 6 participants, please sign up early to secure your place.

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