Stephen Willats

Wall Print


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Stephen Willats born 1943
Lithograph on paper
Image: 203 × 152 mm
Purchased 1983

Catalogue entry

P07947 Wall Print 1980

Offset lithograph 8 × 6 (203 × 152) on paper 11 7/8 × 10 5/8 (298 × 270), published by Jurgen Schweinebraden, East Berlin
Inscribed ‘Willats’ on the back and ‘Wall Print no.80’ and ‘12’ and ‘edition specially made for Jurgen Schweinebraden in East Berlin during June 1980. Edition distributed throughout Eastern Europe’
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1983

Steve Willats is not a printmaker and this work is unique in his oeuvre. It was produced at the request of the Schweinebraden Gallery in East Berlin and followed a successful exhibition of Willats's ‘Lurky Place’ project held there in 1981.

The images on the print are a pair from a series discovered and developed by Willats during his period on a DAAD Scholarship in Berlin. He found that children in tower blocks had drawn on the concrete areas around the base depictions of idealised homes and smiling children. He contrasted one of these images with a photograph of the tower block on which it was made. Willats has published these pairs in ‘Living in a concrete house’ (see Leben in vorgegebenen Grenzen - 4 Inseln in Berlin, exhibition catalogue, Nationalgalerie, Berlin, December 1980–January 1981; the graffiti house in P07947 ill.p.15, with the tower block in which it was found). Willats prepared the print with two images disposed on the sheet; the line that connects the images was omitted since he anticipated that the completed print would not be allowed into East Berlin. He intended to carry the prints unfinished to the gallery and add a line in letraset by hand to each of them. In the event the border guards confiscated the unfinished prints and Willats was left with only a few sheets that he had decided not to take. As he wryly put it, ‘the work is about a wall and suffered at the hands of a wall’ (interview with the compiler, June 1986).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

You might like