Compact Prints is Umbrella Studio’s trademark biennial exhibition showcasing North Queensland’s printmaking talent alongside national and international artists.
Compact Prints 2010 was made up of 138 traditional and digital prints from 18 different countries uniformly displayed in 12 x 12cm CD cases. The exhibition currently has a booked out touring schedule around the country and Compact Prints 2012 has already been booked to tour till 2014.
Compact Prints 2012 requires artists to submit three 12 x 12cm prints from the same edition. The first goes into the touring exhibition starting from Umbrella Studio, the second one is exchanged with another printmaker (every participating artist receives a print from another artist) and the third is used in a print auction to raise funds to cover the costs of the exhibition. The first exhibition of the tour will take place at Umbrella Studio between 17 August – 23 September 2012.
Compact Prints was first held in 2002 when Umbrella was based in Northtown on the Mall. The idea was conceived and curated for free by Rebekah Butler, President of the Board at that time.
It started as a national event, but after a lot of interest from overseas, it became international in 2004 (co-curated by Alana Mandryk and Madeleine McClelland), 2006 (managed by Alana Mandryk, with assistance from Alison McDonald)and again in 2008 (curated & managed by Alison McDonald).
There has never been a theme, only a stipulation that the prints must be exactly 12 x 12 cm (two must be supplied, one for the exhibition and one for the exchange), and that if they are photographs, they must be digitally manipulated, not the original photos. As long as the prints fit all the criteria, they will be accepted, unless it's poor quality or offensive artwork. The project is handled almost entirely by email and post, and many of the participants have taken part in all four Compact Prints. It's a testament to the professionalism of the Umbrella staff and all the participants when it all comes together each time, and is widely appreciated and anticipated.
Every two years, expressions of interest are sent out to Printmaking organisations and previous participants, who pass the word on to their own networks. Word of mouth is amazing, and the news spreads quickly on the internet between participants. There is a deadline for participation forms to enable the database to be built, and then a physical deadline for the prints to be delivered. One of each set of prints is sent to be scanned for the CD catalogue that accompanies the exhibition.
Once the exhibition is over, one of the prints is retained by Umbrella to be a part of the touring exhibition. The other print is then exchanged with another randomly selected print from the exhibition, so that each participant receives a print from another printmaker. Participants also receive a CD catalogue, a few of the invitations and any copies of media publicity. A record is kept of the exchange process, so that artists can be informed of who received their print.
The CD catalogue contains all the artist images and statements, and states their town/city/country of residence. There is a brief introduction by the Director, a foreword written by a selected participant, and a credit page on the back acknowledging those that helped with the project, as well as recognising of funding bodies, sponsors and supporters.
There was a total of 130 participants in 2008, from all around the world, including Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Ukraine, USA, Finland and Iran. It's also refreshing to note that Compact Prints is open to anyone, regardless of where they are from, what technique is used, or how much experience they have, as long as the requirements are followed.
2008 was the first year it was requested that participants submit a third print as a donation for a fundraiser/auction. It was completely voluntary, but almost all the participants were generous and pleased to be more involved with Umbrella, and with helping to contribute to our fundraising activities. The money raised from the print fundraiser went towards hiring two emerging artists to curate exhibitions in 2009.
The feedback from artists over the years has been wonderful, with many wanting to know who got their print in the exchange and many now correspond all around the world. In 2006, it was decided to hold a local component to Compact Prints to engage the community and further create interest outside of the world of printmaking. Students In-case was implemented, and was open to students from secondary schools in the region. Teachers liked the idea, and really got behind the students to participate. The same requirements were applied to the students as to the main project, and it was wonderful to see so many traditional techniques and talent from the young students. The youth component was extremely popular and it was requested by teachers and students to repeat the project, so Umbrella decided to run the project every two years alongside the Compact Prints exhibition.