Fond Farewell and Thanks to BPW Chairman Jim Allen

Building an organisation like Belfast Print Workshop takes a level of passion, creativity, vision, and drive that few people possess. James Allen, our wonderful Chair for the past eight years, has exemplified those traits and much more.

Invited back to Northern Ireland in 1977 by the Arts Council, Jim’s challenge was to create a print workshop out of one etching press in the kitchens of Riddle Hall in Stranmillis. The rest, as they say, is history. Jim succeeded in this task and more besides, in particular setting up the workshop’s residency programme which formed the outward looking ethos and global connections which have contributed so much to the development of printmaking in Northern Ireland. 

Jim served as the workshop’s first Director until 2001 and became Chair of the Board of Trustees in 2011 . Now after eight years of service he has announced his resignation. It’s hard to express how much thanks are owed to Jim on behalf of the workshop; the usual honours don’t seem to do it justice. He has personally supported and encouraged dozens of artists, residents, staff and trustees over the years and no doubt many will want to express their thanks individually. 

This is not goodbye, however. Jim’s invaluable contributions to BPW have already earned him honorary workshop membership for life. We hope he continues to be an active member of the collective participating in our exhibitions and programmes and makes use the studio to produce his masterful work, which continues to set the highest standard for so many printmakers and admirers of the artform.

He leaves a legacy to be proud of and, indeed, a big void to fill as we begin the process of recruiting a new Chair. On behalf of everyone at BPW, we extend a massive thank you to Jim Allen and cheers to the next stage for us both!