This is one of my more brilliant ideas. A magnetic exhibition wall seems obvious when you see it – please feel free to copy it. It is very easy to do and not too expensive to organise.

How do you keep track of your progress as you develop a new print?

Standing back and taking stock of your work as it develops is essential but if you don’t have space to spread it all out what are the options?

prints on table and wall

prints displayed vertically and horizontally

If you have to lay it out on the floor there is the danger of spilling stuff on it, or stepping on it (either humans or cats).

If you are in the throes of an inspired printing session it is unlikely that you have any empty table surfaces. There must surely be a law of physics to prove that printmakers fill all available space with inky things.

Space to share ideas on the magnetic exhibition wall

students looking at finished prints on the magnetic exhibition wall

students looking at finished prints on the magnetic exhibition wall

During courses I like to give students the chance to see all their work at one go.

We get inspiration for colour combinations and inking up methods by sharing an ongoing exhibition of everyones’ work that develops throughout the day.

 Students become more confident, encouraging each other and moving out of their familiar comfort zones. People start to play around with colours, inks mix and become increasingly subtle, and this can all be tracked and learned from if the work is on display.

Time to think

a print fixed up with a magnet

fixing with a magnet keeps the paper clean

I often find someone standing taking a break and quietly contemplating everyones work, or small groups discussing and absorbing new ideas from each other in front of the magnetic exhibition wall.

It is also great to be able to stand back from your own work in progress while you are proofing a print or experimenting with new techniques

This kind of time out from the practical activity is so important learning and also challenging ones own habits.

A vertical plane

Prints are usually seen horizontally as you work on them, or at best held at arms length to get a vertical view. It is always interesting to discover how different work looks when you see it vertically at a distance rather than lying horizontal on a table or the floor. The magnetic exhibition wall provides his opportunity.

Washing line display

string and pegs to display prints

using string and pegs to display prints

I started off with strings round nails in the wall and clothes pegs to attach the prints.

This was quite awkward as the lines sagged, and prints ended up overlapping or with fingerprints round the edge.

When I used the pegs for hanging the washing out they were all inky!

Inspiration from the fridge door

I had the idea of fixing strips of metal to the wall and then using magnets to attach work, in the style of kids drawings on the fridge door.  Before this idea materialised I discovered self adhesive magnetic tape. I got this from Baker Ross but several places supply it on line as well as Poundland (sometimes).

Measuring and fixing

3 magnets on magnetic tape

3 magnets and tape waiting for a print

I drew horizontal lines on the wall at distances that match paper sizes, then stuck the tape over the lines. This is a fairly permanent arrangement as the tape will pull paint off the wall when it is removed.

We use peg magnets from first 4 magnets to attach prints to this. One magnet will support an A4 print, you need more magnets for larger prints as they are heavier.

close up of magnet and magnetic tape

a magnet and magnetic tape in action on the wall

The magnet handles get inky but the face stays clean and the prints are unmarked.

Impromptu exhibition space

When there isn’t a course on I use the magnetic exhibition wall to put up work in progress so I can see everything together from a distance, a very useful part of the creative process.

For York Open Studios it is great to have an informal way of showing work and the studio is converted into an impromptu gallery. With this method it is quick to swap work around to fill gaps or enable people to see work they are interested in ‘at a distance’.

Lots of my students have said they will nick this idea – you can too!

Let me know how it works for you, or if you have other ways of looking at your work in progress please share them here…..