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UWE Bristol - Centre for Fine Print Research

The Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) at UWE Bristol is a distinctive centre of research excellence. It boasts a strong reputation that attracts world-class collaborators across a wide range of sectors, including fine art, design, material science and engineering.

The CFPR has been granted an award of £7.7M from Research England’s ‘Expanding Excellence in England’ (E3) Fund to increase its internationally acclaimed empirical investigation into the artistic, historical and industrial significance of creative print practices, processes and technologies. We will develop into a major globally-recognised research centre for new printing methods, a contemporary and truly inter-disciplinary centre for the future, where external partners co-create research with researchers in state-of-the-art facilities. The funding will enable a step-change in the scale and scope of CFPR activities, to capitalise on current strengths and capacity to develop new and innovative ways of working. Using this new investment, the CFPR will expand its research capacity with a specific focus on addressing: Transformative Technologies for Practice-led Design; Innovative Print Techniques Reconstructing Historic Reprographic Methods; and Novel Print Processes and Materials for Physical and Tactile Surfaces.

Celebrating its 21st birthday in 2019, the Centre for Fine Print Research has a mission to innovate, contemplate and understand all aspects of print history, practice, manufacturing and materials. The CFPR has an interdisciplinary approach, critical for spearheading new insights into the digital artefact through material creation, alternatives to halftoning, developing inks and 3D printable materials, colour and innovative printing for physical surface reproduction, design and fabrication in 2 and 3 dimensions combining a multi-technology approach to novel materials and processes. This recent investment funds 19 new multi-disciplinary posts including associate professors, early to mid-career researchers, artist and designer maker fellowships, administrative, management and technical roles across our key areas, which includes fine art, print, product design, robotics, electronics, software, materials science and nanotechnology. We have a Recruitment Open Day planned for 18 July 3pm-6pm if you are interested in finding out more about the roles and UWE Bristol as a place to work. Please register your interest at CFPRinfo@uwe.ac.uk

About UWE Bristol

We are a well-established university, with over 30,000 students, 250,000 alumni and 3,600 staff. UWE Bristol is one of the largest providers of Higher Education in the South West. We are globally connected and regionally embedded, with strong employer and partner connections. Students come to study with us from all over the UK, as well as from 140 different countries, making this a diverse and interesting place to study. We achieved 89% overall student satisfaction in the National Student Satisfaction survey in 2018, this excellent result puts us as the top university in the South West and in 7th place nationally. In 2019 we were placed in the Guardian’s Top 30 Universities in the UK and we achieved TEF Gold status.

The volume of world-leading research at UWE Bristol has gone up by 170% according to the results of REF 2014, with 79% of our research impact rated world leading or internationally excellent. We have seen a 31% increase in research income since 2014, and host over 600 postgraduate research students funded by research councils and industry partners.

Looking now towards 2030: future research will strongly align with the priorities of UK Research and Innovation and the Government’s Industrial Strategy with a focus on: Digital Futures; Health and Wellbeing; Creative and Digital Technologies; and Sustainability by Design.

UWE’s expanding Centre for Fine Print Research will reside within the UWE Bristol University Enterprise Zone, adjacent to the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Health Tech Hub, Computer Science Research Centre, Launch Space Graduate Incubator, and Future Space facility providing workspace for small and growing businesses. Creating a Centre that is truly interdisciplinary and situated within a dynamic and flexible collaborative intellectual and physical working environment.

Bristol itself is a hub of social and cultural activity and is a big pull for students and employers alike. A place with a strong, creative and fiercely independent mindset. A city with a buzzing music scene, great restaurants and interesting business ventures. It’s not surprising Bristol is consistently named as one of the best places to live and work in the UK.


CFPR Research Themes:

Theme 1 Industry and Transformative Technologies for Practice-Led Design

From its roots in 19th century photomechanical history, the Centre has undertaken high quality research into continuous tone photomechanical printing involving printing presses, ink and plates. The Centre is now combining 21st century digital processes, ink formulation and optical methods to high tech but largely forgotten, reprographic methods from the 19th century (Lippmann and Woodbury), to reinvent them for 21st century printing industry applications in high end continuous tone printing for art practitioners, security printing, micro printing and bespoke packaging. We wish to extend our interest beyond flat the flat surface to an exploration and care of a range of artworks including paintings, sculpture, ancient objects, ceramics and buildings.

There are obvious synergies with the 19th century and the 21st century artist and scientist, and with the introduction of new materials and different 2D and 3D print platforms there are implications for the care of digitally printed objects and artworks, for example, as digital platforms (cameras, computers, printers) are quickly superseded and become redundant (through new software, operating systems, file formats) thus impacting on image reproduction and colour compatibility. Due to the fugitive nature of inks and UV curing materials, objects may become brittle over time, printed artefacts including 3D printed objects and inkjet prints will degenerate and fade, thus calling into question the longevity of works and how to conserve them.

Theme 2 Innovative Print Techniques Reconstructing Historic Reprographic Methods

From its roots in 19th century photomechanical history, the Centre has undertaken high quality research into continuous tone photomechanical printing involving printing presses, ink and plates. The Centre is now combining 21st century digital processes, ink formulation and optical methods to high tech but largely forgotten, reprographic methods from the 19th century (Lippmann and Woodbury), to reinvent them for 21st century printing industry applications in high end continuous tone printing for art practitioners, security printing, micro printing and bespoke packaging. We wish to extend our interest beyond flat the flat surface to an exploration and care of a range of artworks including paintings, sculpture, ancient objects, ceramics and buildings.

There are obvious synergies with the 19th century and the 21st century artist and scientist, and with the introduction of new materials and different 2D and 3D print platforms there are implications for the care of digitally printed objects and artworks, for example, as digital platforms (cameras, computers, printers) are quickly superseded and become redundant (through new software, operating systems, file formats) thus impacting on image reproduction and colour compatibility. Due to the fugitive nature of inks and UV curing materials, objects may become brittle over time, printed artefacts including 3D printed objects and inkjet prints will degenerate and fade, thus calling into question the longevity of works and how to conserve them.

Theme 3 Novel Print Processes and Materials for Physical and Tactile Surfaces

Through active collaboration in European and other international and scientific networks, the Centre has established prominence in accurate colour measurement and high-quality reproduction of printed images.

The Centre is now moving into 2.5D printing and is at the forefront in identifying new opportunities for physical and tactile surfaces. This has included low relief deposition of pigments and paints, and the development of software to convert images from pixels into lines, and that uses G-code to drive specially constructed painting and drawing machines.

The Centre is exploring how we can ensure our cities are more welcoming and navigable, engaging and informative for people with visual impairments and disabilities, as well as the very young and elderly. Research in this area has potential to convert intangible places and objects, for example, city or museum maps, buildings that are too large to apprehend, or fragile objects in museums that cannot be touched, into tactile pictures and printed objects. 2.5D printed maps will incorporate smart technology, communicate on different levels with its audience.

Theme 4 Establishing the Canon of the Artists’ Print from a Practitioner Perspective

The postholder may be a writer, historian, curator to explore the relationship between print and practice. The aim of this post is to encourage and facilitate collaboration with artists, studios and communities through, teaching, CPD and exchange.

Established in 1998, CFPR conducts practical research into the artistic, historical and industrial significance of creative print practices, processes and technologies. Its work is built on multiple, wide-ranging collaborations with industry, HE and other national and international partners. CFPR research centres on the production of physical artefacts, images and objects, primarily predicated on ‘print’, broadly defined, including all aspects of digital and new-media technologies related to ‘making’ and craft-skills in a visual environment. Its work is closely linked to industrial development and new technologies. By adapting to changing demand in the marketplace and the requirements of the user, it is able to conduct cutting-edge research that has direct application to industry, creative design, science and art.

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