In early 2021 at the height of the pandemic, the Printmaking Areas at the Slade and the National College of the Arts (NCA), Lahore invited students from across both schools to apply to take part in a unique (lockdown) print collaboration. Students and staff from both institutions were invited to respond to each other’s work, each other’s institution, our shared histories, the current situation and/or each other in contributing a print-based work for an artists’ book publication.
This collaboration came about through the resurfacing of the Slade’s historic links with Asia (most specifically research into artists coming from Asia to study at the Slade in the 20th century and the ongoing and significant influences and entanglements in both directions that ensued) as part of the Paul Mellon Centre’s London, Asia project.
Key connections emerged between the two institutions, particularly through the late Slade Professor of Printmaking, Bartholomeu dos Santos (known as Barto), and Naazish Ataullah, who founded the Print department at NCA (inviting Barto to help set up a new etching studio there), and went on to become its principal. Subsequent generations of NCA teachers followed in Ataullah’s footsteps, creating a substantial and sustained relationship between the two institutions.
London, Asia, Art, Worlds
The Print Pals project is being framed within the London, Asia project by a group of students led by Professor Ming Tiampo at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. These students, who are taking a graduate seminar connected with the London, Asia, Art, Worlds symposium Tiampo is co-organizing with Hammad Nasar and Sarah Turner at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, will be providing historical and critical perspectives on Print Pals. Students on the course have been invited to participate in the Print Pals exchange and will be writing short essays reflecting upon the project, its process and its outcomes which we plan to publish alongside the artworks themselves.
The collaboration has taken the form of a series of online meetings and discussions between students and staff at all three institutions. We identified common themes and interests, and drew up pairings informed by these framings as starting points. The Print Pal pairs and later essayists then met up independently to share stories, work, and get to know each other with the intention of creating an opportunity to form deeper connections, meaningful experiences, exchanges and responses.
While the publication provides a focal point and an outcome for the exchange, the project aims are broader: to create the opportunity for global exchange and shared experiences at a time when borders and horizons have shut down in the real world but have opened up online. The exchanges have been both cultural and personal, with participants working from home throughout most of the project with lockdowns imposed in both countries for the majority of the time.
Publication and Dissemination
Print Pals: Here and Now will be printed in both Lahore and London in limited editions with a PDF available to download online.
There will be an online event hosted by the Paul Mellon Centre to officially launch the publication in Autumn 2021 as part of the Slade 150 series of events/celebrations.
Print Pals: Here and Now will also be featured within the Slade 150 Print exhibition which is opening at the UCL Art Museum in November 2021.
For more information and to see the project unfold in real time please follow PrintPal.s on Instagram.
Print Pals has been co-organised by staff including Susan Collins, Dryden Goodwin, James Keith and Lesley Sharpe at the Slade; and by Muhammed Atif Khan, Abdul Musawir, Laila Rahman and Fatima Saeed at the NCA, with the support of Ming Tiampo, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.