FMP Week 18: Printing dilemmas

My decisions about printing are being driven by a number of factors. These include cost which also links to whether I intend to sell images displayed at the exhibitions. Contexts in which I am exhibiting is also important. Both sites are of an industrial nature, the first is an active incinerator, the second was previously used to process china clay from Dartmoor. Expectations of hosts (one has yet to be clarified) may be for a different approach in contrast to the fine art papers and framed prints one could find in a London gallery. This would also be my preference. Fitting in with and complementing the immediate surrounds and normal functions and use of the exhibition space is another challenge. A contrast could work in some circumstances but may also clash in a way that results in a negative impact for my exhibition or the surrounding activities. A level of compatibility and thematic symbiosis could be good but may also backfire if the impact of my work or that of others is reduced.

Moral and ethical considerations also come into play. For example, my ideal, in line with my project intentions, would be to print on ‘sustainable’ surfaces that, in comparison with some others, would have less of a negative impact on the environment. Then there is the concept of ‘containment’. My debris collections have been free floating in the sea and on beaches but the recycling bins static and enveloping of waste. I chose to display on 5mm board without frames for my August exhibition as framing did not feel right for the subject matter which principally focussed on the debris I had collected. In addition to having a more contemporary feel, the boards offered a durability such that they can be displayed outside or indoors and I was at the time thinking of the possibility of exhibiting on a beach (and may still do).

Sarah Newton 2018, Event Horizons on glass
Sarah Newton 2018, Event Horizon 1 on foam board

So far, while developing this project, I have had images printed on glass, fabrics, paper, plant based paper, poster paper, canvas and 5mm board. Comparing samples from Contrado, PrintSpace, Falmouth University printing department at the Institute of Photography, Instantprint, Digital Colour Services, Sixprint, Photobox, Tesco and myself, I am even more aware of the cost x quality x sustainability x contextual setting x potential audience dilemma. My research is continuing despite a short time scale until the first printed images are required for displaying. For example, I have recently come across the Green Printer in the US and the St Austell Printing Company, both of whom claim to use the most sustainable production methods and recyclable materials currently available. I hope to be able to make decisions informed by this research and following information gathering visits to both exhibition locations in the near future.

Sarah Newton 2019, Event Horizons on plant based paper
Sarah Newton 2019, Event Horizons on bright white photographic paper
Sarah Newton 2019, Event Horizons on tracing paper


Green Printer. Available at: [accessed 15/01/19].

St Austell Printing Company. Available at: [accessed 15/01/19].

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