Gelatine Printing Workshop At John Rylands Library

Currently the third Free For Arts Festival is taking place in Manchester. I put is a proposal for a gelatine printing session as part of the festival and this took place at the John Rylands Library. While I’ve been to look round the library (it is a beautiful building), this is the first time I’ve worked there.


 I was to work in the Education Room as it was one of the only rooms which was set up for ‘messy’ activities. This was on the first floor and down two corridors so it was obvious that I would have very few customers as no one would be able to find me despite all my signs. Well, that was what I thought! My first customer was a German girl from Frankfurt at about noon and and my last one was a Czech child from Prague at four o’clock. In between, I managed to dash down to the cafe at three for a bottle of lemonade. Even when I got back there was a roomful of people wanting to print. It was nonstop for four hours! I was cream crackered at the end!


Bookended by the German and the Czech, there were a Swede from Malmo, a Dutch girl from Utrecht, a family from Madrid, three girls from Philadelphia, and a girl from near Venice. I was amazed at the international nature of the participants. Clearly the library must be promoted by the tourist people. I was not aware of this. One thing that surprised me was that, although there were many Chinese people around viewing the artworks in Harmonious Society, part of Asia Triennial Manchester 2014, I had no participants from that community.

Another thing that surprised me was about two thirds of the printers were adults. When I did a similar activity as part of Bolton Food and Drink Festival in August about ninety per cent were children with loads of One Direction logos done by the girls and nearly all the boys doing creepers from Minecraft. Today we had one creeper, no One Direction and loads of natural things such as grasses and feathers.


One aspect I really appreciated was the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff at the John Rylands. Then at the end Benjamin, who was one of the organisers of the festival. and his sister Lucy popped in and helped me pack up. This is on top of a generous donation of paper for the workshop from art suppliers Fred Aldous. All in all, a tiring but very enjoyable day!


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I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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8 Responses to Gelatine Printing Workshop At John Rylands Library

  1. It’s interesting how few British people there were. I find that a lot. Have we become a complacent society?

    • (Third attempt at a reply! I must get this keyboard sorted!)
      I only went to the John Rylands for the first time a couple of years ago even though I’ve lived in the North West for forty years. It’s a bit like Londoners never going to see the sights. The JRL must be on a tourist trail of some kind. There was a family from Leicester who were having a weekend in Manchester. The only other thing is that it is next to Spinningfields which is a fairly new development of shops and restaurants which might be the main attraction.

  2. Nancy Farmer says:

    That’s very interesting to hear you – John and Rosie – say that about the lack of brits, because doing Somerset Arts Weeks here it’s mostly brits, and most of those from Somerset. Maybe you just have more imports? Or maybe the leylines confuse the foreigners and they can’t escape from Glastonbury?
    Sounds like you did a splendid job anyway, John!

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