A stone’s throw from the overground train line that now connects Peckham Rye in South London to the eastern parts of the city, you’ll find art gallery The Sunday Painter. The sign can actually be seen from the station, and the gallery’s rooftop has been mistaken for that of popular nearby summer bar Frank’s, leading to confused visitors. But rather than a rooftop bar, The Sunday Painter building is where Peckham Print Studio is located. It’s a multi-functional, water-based screenprinting studio that has a unique community focus. Started by Nathan Bryant and Hugh Barrell after they graduated from university, the studio (which launched in 2012) didn’t begin as a commercial project, but rather as a way of creating a space where people could print.
“We both had a massive love for screenprinting. It became something we shared and when we left university we started working on a print project together,” Bryant says of the project’s roots. After being offered the unused space by The Sunday Painter, the duo set about creating the print studio they themselves wanted to work in. “We wanted to be in a studio where the equipment and studio space was looked after, clean and organized, and where the people who worked were available to talk to and could offer advice. The commercial projects came later—we really wanted to have a membership studio and teach workshops and do events.”
The studio itself is typical of many of London’s creative spaces, with the printing equipment set up in a bricked railway arch. Adding to the atmosphere is the fact that much of the equipment was donated, or sold to Bryant and Barrell for low prices. “It was important to us to reclaim as much equipment and material as we could—we begged, stole and borrowed as much as possible. One of our best pieces of equipment we got for half price, even though someone else offered more, because the guy selling it said he knew we would keep people interested.”
Peckham Print Studio currently runs two workshops: a one-day screenprinting workshop with printer Tom Murphy and a two-day “field-trip” workshop. “We take people on a trip in London, normally somewhere like the Horniman Museum or Kew Gardens—amazing places and settings—and we do a drawing workshop where they draw with ink onto tracing paper. The next day they bring the drawings here and expose them onto screens,” Bryant explains. “It’s important to us that people realize there is another side to screenprinting, where you don’t have to use a computer—every print can be different.” The workshops are usually full and while the regular membership is small, the 10 key-holders come from all over London to use the space.
Apart from the popular workshops and memberships, Peckham Print Studio also does commercial printing, but Bryant says it’s now increasingly focusing on fine art prints. Recently the studio worked with artist Marlie Mul for a show, printing with ink and sand onto perspex, and it’s becoming more and more known as a bespoke printing studio. Coming up next is a project called “Print Sessions,” which will see artists work together in the studio space for a couple of days. “We’ll let them produce whatever they want in collaboration and see what comes out of it,” Bryant says.
Each year, the studio also holds a summer residency to help recently graduated students. And in keeping with its collaborative DIY spirit, Peckham Print has launched an online shop project together with Saskia Pomeroy that sees them either produce or fund the production of a work by an artist they like. “It’s a way for us to spark a working process for someone whose work we really admire, and an avenue for us to commission and sell work that we like,” Bryant concludes. Three years on, Peckham Print Studio is staying true to its founding principle: to be a space where people can come to create good work.
Images by Cajsa Carlson