CopyArt opened in 1984 in Kings Cross with funding from the Greater London Council (GLC), when the GLC closed it continued with funding from Camden Council and Greater London Arts Association. CopyArt was an open access resource centre that used photocopiers as the means of 'printing'. When the collective started, direct access to photocopiers – except to the knackered ones in public libraries – was difficult. They existed in the domain of offices or 'businesses', or you could pay to have a high street copy-shop do it for you. Yet as a means of accessible reproduction they were unrivalled - cheap per copy, easy to use, fast and flexible plus with a little experimentation ('you don't need any art training') capable of producing truly inventive results.
The collective ran workshops for all kinds of different activist and community groups and was used by a wide range of people, including artists and musicians. “We exist for anyone to make use of, with the restriction that we don't print racist, sexist or anti-gay material and we don't do commercial work…On the whole the majority of our users come to design and print off their own material. We always stress that the machines are open access, to be used as a resource and not simply as a cheap alternative to a high street print shop.” (Kenna et al 1986)
Examples of CopyArt projects cited in the above (1986): “The 1986 Anti-Apartheid demonstration and festival used CopyArt cut-outs of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Swapo dancers, 'Boycott shell' petrol pumps and a backdrop linking South African imports to the system which Britain finances for them. We also put on a CopyArt exhibition at the Metro Cinema in Piccadilly for six weeks of posters that had been made at CopyArt and backdrops on Defend Gay's the Word, Libra Nicaragua, Police Surveillance, the treatment of women through history and in advertisements, media distortion especially over Broadwater Farm, coal and nuclear issues and more besides! Other CopyArt projects have included a fifteen by nine foot backdrop for the NCCL [National Council for Civil Liberties] centenary conference…A one hundred and twenty foot long mural mounted outside county Hall as part of the 'Arts in Danger' campaign…A huge coffin filled with moving cut-outs and a changing slide show as part of a local protest against rate-capping…A local festival on the green outside the Hawley Street building before it was demolished, which relied on local residents organising with us over food, lights, dance bands, and with the hoardings covered with CopyArt blow-ups of comic heroes…” A few years later In Design After Dark (1991), Cynthia Rose noted that CopyArt was being “used more and more by outriders from the new leisure world: guerrilla design and art operatives. They need its assets for flyers posters and sleeve-art.”
CopyArt was absorbed by Interchange Trust some time ago, expanded to incorporate desktop publishing and now exists as Interchange's IT and Media department, providing services to other Interchange sections and external charitable organisations. See weblink to Copyart at Interchange below.
ADDITION SENT TO WIKI 8/2/10: Copyart = Community Copyart, from memory you have the right date when they started, but they were located in 1. Meanwhile Gardens 2. Hawley Street, Camden 3. a squatted place in Belsize Park before moving to Culross Buildings. regards Mark Pawson - longtime Copyart User
- Kenna, Carol; Medcalf, Lyn; Walker, Rick. (1986) Printing is Easy…? Community Printshops 1970-1986 Greenwich Mural Workshop
- Rose, Cynthia (1991) Design After Dark Thames and Hudson
- http://brixton50.co.uk/vive-le-resistance/ (Online archive of exhibition curated by CopyArt Collective at Brixton Art Gallery in 1984)
- copy-this.pdf (Copy This! A Historical Perspective On the Use of the Photocopier in Art by John A Walker. 2005)
- http://www.leonardo.info/isast/spec.projects/electrobib.html (A bibliography of texts about photocopy art)
- http://www.interchange.org.uk/content/?q=node/6 (The current Copyart facility at Interchange)