The Babel Project

Babel segment

The Babel Project, is an international print exhibition currently in The Gallery Ratamo, Finland. Ratamo Gallery is a printing and photography hub in the town of Jyvaskyla, three hours train journey north from Helsinki.

Forty print studios from nineteen countries were allocated sections of Peter Breughel’s painting ‘The Great Tower of Babel’ to interpret. A total of 335 printmakers were involved.

As a member of, not only West Norfolk Artists, but Slaughterhaus Print Studio in London, my M3 section, is on display in Ratamo Gallery in Jyvaskyla. The method devised for the project was to divide the image of the Tower into segments and to assign each participant an equal size detail of Brugel’s image. (The same method used by WNAA in the past, in similar projects, as some members may remember!!).

Finished Babel

Along with the final composition, every single piece of the collaborative work is shown separately along with details of all the print studios. An aim of the project was the interaction of diverse printmaking studios around the world and to introduce their work to a wider audience. The Finnish organisers hoped the collaborative artwork and the whole exhibition would build connections between printmakers and artists everywhere.

I was fortunate to be able to travel to Finland for the preview as representative of Slaughterhaus Print Studio. It was energising to see the completed work and meet with other enthusiastic printmakers from assorted countries. It was -10 degrees in Finland but the warmth of the welcome was positively glowing.

The challenge of the project for me, was to produce six identical prints – three for Finland, two for Slaughterhaus, one for myself. As my preference is for monotype prints, being consistent and accurate six times was particularly difficult! It was interesting to contemplate the other pieces that surround my segment, however it was a pointless exercise to try to anticipate if anything would align or match up in any way.

At the preview

My ultimate choice of production was linocut as I reckoned this method would give me more control for the creation of multiple prints. It was also a method that could highlight features in the scene in a simple manner – blue pond, green tree, red chimney and yellow in the smithy.

The methods of printing used by participants covered every form of printmaking, drypoint, etching, stone litho, mono print, linocut, collographic – some people choosing a method that would recreate the segment best or simply their favourite method of printing.

The Babel Project has been an outstanding success. When the exhibition finishes in the home town of Jyvaskyla later this month (January 2024), it will be re-installed in Helskini, then travel to Arkansas in America and 2025 will see the Babel Project in Copenhagen. Need to get some flights booked!!

Helen Breach