As part of a vibrant arts community, the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Program is committed to providing space for artists to collaborate, develop printmaking techniques and share each-others practice. Creative Conversations at Blackburn began as an effort to give volunteer monitors and interns a platform to share and discuss their own work as artists. Working in this community-run environment provides numerous opportunities for group work through assisting other artists, taking classes, and performing maintenance; however, conversations allow artists to work together in ways that challenge their creative abilities as artists and commentators. We find that group discussion allows us to gain valuable insight into our own works and how they fit into a broader social context.

Due to the success of these meetings, we decided to extend invitations to studio members, SIP fellows, and artists who are interested in critically engaging with the RBPMW community.  We hope that this will open up more opportunities for monitors and interns to network with people outside the immediate circle of studio-goers, and will, perhaps, attract more people to participate at the other events and services hosted at RBPMW.

In line with our policies towards inclusivity, we’ve also decided to place no (unreasonable) constraints on the media and materials that may be presented. We accept everything from print and paint to performance and design. For while the studio may remain renowned for its contributions to print, we feel that welcoming other art forms to the discussions may help establish interesting and novel collaborations between printers and artists of different media.  And since decisions about the structure and intent of meetings are decided democratically by the whole body of participants, this allows the platform to change and adapt to cultivate new forms of discussion and presentation.

Up to now, the best format we’ve developed has been to meet for about two hours, in which two artists show and discuss their work with the group. These conversations are led by two established professionals in the arts. We ask artists to come prepared with a springboard for discussion, such as what they are looking to improve on with the help of the group, or what ideas they were trying to convey with their work.

Our Creative Conversations are held in the Blackburn 20/20 gallery between the de-installation of one show and the installation of another. This allows us to exhibit in a professional gallery space without interrupting its scheduled exhibitions. 

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