Image Credit: Madeline Royle
The Salford printmakers’ studio, Hot Bed Press, is the biggest open-access print studio in the UK.
Hot Bed Press started out in 1994, taking up residency in various locations in Manchester and Salford before setting up shop in The Casket Works in 2006. Their membership numbers have grown massively over the last few years, from just 35 in 2006 to a huge 300 in 2019. The non-profit company is completely self-funded and aims to support local artists by promoting printmaking and educating a varied audience in the subject and related arts.
Now, they’re one of the biggest open access print workshops in the UK and have been taking part in the Manchester Art Fair for the last seven years. Last weekend Hot Bed Press showcased their work with print workshops and live printing running all day at Manchester Central.
Sean Rorke is the Artistic Director for Hot Bed Press and he’s been with the organisation for thirteen years now. “We help people learn about printmaking, we help printmakers learn more about printmaking and we generally push the boundaries of where print is,” he says.
“We’re not trying to be trendy or break new ground. I think the biggest thing that’s different now to ten or twelve years ago, is we’re now one of the biggest print workshops in the UK. We’ve done it from the ground upwards, which is great.”
They bought The Casket Works last year after putting up a fight with the council, and Hot Bed Press are now working on expanding further than just the first floor of the warehouse. They’re secure for a long while with a 250 year lease on the building, too. It’s been a three year project to expand in their building, which has consisted of fixing the roof and putting in new windows as well as taking over the ground floor.
Sean says, “This feels big at the moment, but it will be a lot bigger. So we will be the biggest print workshop in the UK and on par with a £17 million arts center in Edinburgh that took fifteen years to build.
“We don’t get funding. We got funds towards buying the building but apart from that, we’re just a very good business model. Basically we just have courses, outreach, 21 artist studios and 300 members – a membership is £80 per year. So it’s reasonable, affordable and we’d like to keep it that way and just continue to grow.
“We’d like to be so busy that we have to grow again.”
Over the weekend, Hot Bed Press took part in the Manchester Art Festival. Here they held a live screen printing workshop throughout the day which is completely different to the demonstrations they did last year.
Sean said: “The important thing is every year we don’t do the same workshops.
“Each time we try to make it look different, feel different and just have different people run the workshops.”
Hot Bed Press have been doing the art fair since it started seven years ago.