2021 TPG Admin Team, L to R, Cloudia, Mandy, AllisonPrinting Girls Shine at SA Print Gallery, Woodstock CT Saturday 09 October – 20 November
Copy by Mandy Conidaris
We often get strange looks from folk in the artworld, followed by the question: what are The Printing Girls?? Well, at its core, TPG is an all-female collective of South African-based artists who work in print. Our membership ranges from artists who have just begun to explore printmaking techniques, through to experienced printmaker/artists and professional printmakers. But beyond its core, TPG is an interwoven web of creative, diverse, individual personalities. Just imagine.
Our main focus has been to develop a strong professional network of female South African printmakers and create a platform for our members to share ideas, network, and exhibit together. We actively cultivate a culture of sharing skills and information, help our members grow their printmaking skills, and aim to advance TPG as a credible community within the artworld.
The six original members of TPG began to exhibit in 2016 as The Printing Girls. Each year, more artists joined, and TPG in its current incarnation slowly began to materialise. Today, our members number fifty-seven and are based in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, North West Province, Free State, and the Karoo … we have been astounded at how many women artists either work primarily in print or have printmaking as a significant part of their creative output.
This year (2021), our co-founder Amy Jane van den Bergh took a year’s sabbatical to enjoy her first pregnancy and give birth to a lovely baby boy, so the 2021 Admin Team has consisted of Cloudia Rivett-Carnac as the members’ go-to TPG for technical support and the overall workshop co-ordinator, Allison Klein as the TPG social media and exhibition liaison manager, and Mandy Conidaris as the website manager, TPG copywriter, and print exchange organiser.
This year the Admin Team has curated four exhibitions. Three of these had specific limitations, which we find rattles our members’ creative cages in a positive way … and we’ve learnt to ignore the grumbles! We also held three Print Exchange projects to run alongside our first three exhibitions. The online catalogues with the works and accompanying stories may be sourced on our Issuu Profile.
In March we held a show of exclusively relief prints at our first exhibition in Pretoria – ‘New Girls on the Block’ – at The Arts Association of Pretoria. In April, the Western Cape-based TPGs self-initiated an exhibition of their own – ‘At The Table’ – at Spin Street Gallery in Cape Town. In August we held our annual exhibition – #TPG21 – at The Art Room in Johannesburg. Here the limitation was size, 40 x 40 cm paper or smaller. The exhibition at White River Gallery in Mpumalanga – ‘Mother Nature in Monotype’ – was held in August in Women’s Month and was limited to monotype print techniques. In this month of October, our final exhibition – ‘TPG @ SA Print Gallery’ – has given the Admin Team the chance to indulge themselves by selecting their personal favourites of the year.
As the year started still in lockdown, we put our heads together to see how we could make it work for us. Forced onto Zoom, we discovered that we could reach all our members equally well. The Admin Team held virtual mid-year creative assistance meetings, consciously arranging groups of TPGs who normally would geographically be unable to interact. Pre-Covid, TPG technical workshops were held at Cloudia’s Joburg-based printmaking space, Chocolate Ink Studio, and she has successfully devised a series of online interactive printmaking workshops. So, in a bizarre way, the lockdown has helped us achieve our aim to democratise TPG in terms of technical and creative support and build a stronger nationwide community.
Through using this year as a foundation to figure out where we succeeded and stumbled, and by building on the positive professional relationships we have furthered, we are excited to see what next year will bring with Amy Jane back at the helm. Watch this space!
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