Malaspina Printmakers Society was formed in 1975 by a small group of mature students at the Vancouver School of Art (VSA), one post-graduate fellow, and two printmaking instructors.
The group began by collaborating on printmaking exhibitions, including one at the Mido Gallery, a commercial gallery space was run by Werner True, located at 936 Main Street near Chinatown and the train station. Bob Evermon and Gary Bowden, two printmaking instructors at the Vancouver School of Art (VSA), had a friendship with True. Together, they were interested in collaborating on a West Coast Printmaking Instructors Exhibition, using connections Evermon and Bowden had down the West Coast to bring together works by fifty artists from Colorado, New Mexico, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia.
In order to apply for the necessary funds to support students as researchers toward the exhibition, Gary Bowden registered the group as a not-for-profit society. The society was named Malaspina after the Malaspina Strait next to Texada Island. Although literally translated as “bad winds” the name was chosen to reflect some aspect of the Vancouver region, and its proximity to the ocean. The Georgia Strait was already taken.
Under the direction of Evermon and Bowden, the group was successful in obtaining an Opportunities For Youth grant from the federal government. The funds obtained supported five students to conduct research toward the exhibition, and to establish a Society membership. During this time the group organized a members exhibition and began a membership newsletter called CHOP, which reported on the activities of the newly formed society and put out communications related to printmaking.
After a successful show in the Mido Gallery, and with their not-for-profit society all set up, the printmakers associated with Malaspina decided they would be well served if they had their own studio facility outside the context of the VSA. In order to advance this desire for professionalism through access to independent equipment, from 1975 onward the group concentrated on founding and operating a print media studio facility. An independent studio facility alleviated the need for students to linger through their studies at the VSA, which many did at the time in order to maintain affordable access to printmaking equipment.
While some distance from the student context was desired, Bowden continued to work with the group in a mentoring role with a shifting core group, lead by Deborah Koenker and Louis Crout, to help bring the new studio to fruition. Bowden located and secured the studio facilities at the Burnaby Arts Centre. The first studio was approximately 5000 square feet, located in the Mather House. It opened on December 1, 1976. The new studio was equipped for lithography, screen printing, and intaglio. Gary Bowden was particularly involved in bringing together the necessary equipment in these early days; working together with Koenker and Crout to locate, procure and build what was needed, including a plate cleaning apparatus and an aquatint box.
Space was provided virtually free of charge in Burnaby, in exchange for an agreement that Malaspina would host workshops in the local community, and allow community use of the presses one day per week. Deborah Koenker, who was one of the founding Malaspina group members and had been contributing to the studio’s development for a year as a volunteer, became the first paid Studio Director in 1977.
At this time, the Malaspina Archive was also initiated, consisting of a donation of one print from each edition produced by artists using the Workshop. The studio facility developed over a period of approximately three years, during which time the Burnaby Arts Centre and the Society began to differ in their goals for the use of the space. Burnaby wished to increase community access through further workshops while the artists at Malaspina intended to focus more on the space as a studio and production facility. In 1979, the Society opted to move to a new location at 167 East Pender Street, close to the Vancouver School of Art, consisting of two floors totaling approximately 2750 square feet. During this time, Koenker was away on a yearlong leave of absence, and the Workshop Manager, Jean Madsen, oversaw the move.
During a year of change at the Pender Street location the direction of Malaspina shifted to a centre with an ongoing exhibition of member prints that would also offer print editioning services and further workshops. About one year into this shift and relocation, some members of the board stepped down in order to force a general meeting to discuss the centre’s direction. Koenker returned to the centre as workshop director in 1980, and the shift was largely reversed.
In 1981, the centre was forced to move once more, when the sale of 167 Pender resulted in a 50% rent increase, as well as potential costs related to certain permits and renovations required by the City and Fire Marshall which proved to be too costly to manage. Malaspina found a space on Granville Island, where it has been located since 1981 with 2600 square feet of production space, and a small gallery that holds print exhibitions. Over the years, Malaspina has also developed international and local print media residencies, workshops, and public programming related to printmaking activity.
Renee Van Halm
First Board of Directors
Renee van Halm
Date of incorporation
“to coordinate and initiate activities and information concerning the execution and exhibition of original prints.”
“The Malaspina Printmakers Society was formed in 1975 and is registered as a non-profit society under the Societies Act of British Columbia. Its aims are to facilitate greater communication among artist-printmakers, to provide them with a fully equipped studio and to increase a public awareness of, and interest in, fine arts and printmaking.”
Malaspina Printmakers Society Constitution
1. The name of the Society is Malaspina Printmakers Society.
2. The objects of the Society are:
(a) to advance knowledge and appreciation of and to stimulate interest in printmaking by symposiums, exhibitions, competitions, workshops, and seminars and to facilitate greater communication among artist-printmakers;
(b) to maintain a Workshop, the purpose of which is to provide printing facilities for artist-printmakers to work on their own fine-art prints;
(c) to apply for, raise and receive grants, gifts, legacies, devises and bequests and to hold, administer, invest, expend or deal with the same in furtherance of the objects of the Society;
(d) to acquire by purchase, lease, license or otherwise to hold or dispose of any real or personal property or interest therein in furtherance of the objects of the Society;
(e) to promote safety standards for artists working in printmaking studios;
(f) to do all such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the objects of the Society.
3. The operations of the Society shall be chiefly carried out in the Province of British Columbia.
4. If the Society shall accumulate any profits not immediately required for use in the furtherance of its objects, such profits shall not be distributed to the members or any thereof but shall be kept or invested in accordance with the By-laws of the Society for ultimate use in furtherance of the objects of the Society. This Clause 4 is unalterable.5. If upon the winding up or dissolution of the Society there remains, after the satisfaction of all debts and liabilities, any property whatsoever, such property shall be given or transferred to such other organization or organizations having objects similar to the objects of the Society, as may be determined by the members of the Society at the time of winding up or dissolution, and if and so far as effect cannot be given to the foregoing, then such property shall be given or transferred to some charitable organization, charitable corporation or charitable trust recognized by the Department of National Revenue of Canada as being qualified as such under the provisions of the Income Tax Act of Canada from time to time in effect. This clause 5 is unalterable.
1976 – Workshop opened 6450 Gilpin Street, Mather House, Burnaby Art Centre
1979 – Organization moved to 163 West Pender Street
1981 – Organization moved again to 1555 Duranleau Street, Granville Island (1981-present)
In 1991 Malaspina published
Impressions: A Canadian Printmakers Handbook
Compiled and Written by Sonja Krickhan and Morgan McGuigan
Table of Contents:
1. Selling Prints
How to Write A CV
How to Prepare Slides
The Art Market
2. Getting Organized
Copyright and Contracts
Keeping Track of Your Prints
Glossary: Original Printmaking
Purchasing a Press
3. Health and Safety
The Safe Disposal of Printmaking Materials
Print Studios in Canada
Government Grants for Artists
Intellectual Print Competitions
Scholarships for International Studies
A short history of the organization is available in the publication 30 X 30: New Directions in Printmaking, published by the Burnaby Art Gallery in 2006.
CHOP provides an overview of activities and members concerns as well as articles and news about printmaking.
The Malaspina print archives are divided between the Burnaby Art Gallery, which has holdings that date from 1975 – 1981. SFU Library holds the Malaspina print archives from 1982-1988. The remaining print archives are housed at Malaspina Printmakers Society.
Back issues of CHOP are archived in binders, located at the centre.