The first regional printmaking association in Finland was founded in Turku in 1933. The starting point for the association was an exhibition held in 1932 at the new office block of the Turun Sanomat newspaper. The exhibition raised public interest as it was as far as we know the first exhibition in Turku concentrating only on printmaking. One year earlier the national Printmakers Union had been founded so it was evident that the interest in printmaking had grown and the position of printmaking as an independent art form had become clearer and more stable.
The artists [Ester Borg, Ander Holmqvist, Viljo Lehmussaari, Josef Manulkin (Manuel), Aili Olofsson, Laila Säilä and Edith Wiklund] taking part in the exhibition in Turku called themselves Group Grafica, a group which soon formed the permanent printmakers association in Turku. The constitutive meeting of the organisation was held in Turku at Café Lehtinen, March 17th in 1933. The association then took the name Turku Graphic Art Association and the central aims were defined as bringing printmaking to public attention and helping the members in professional matters. In 1967 the name was changed into Turku Printmakers Association.
In 1933 the association elected Teodor Schalin as the chairman, a post which he held during the association’s first decade. After him Viljo Lehmussaari acted as the chairman until 1962 followed by Reijo Koskela, Raimo Kanerva, Alku Avanto, Vieno Orre, Jouni Boucht, Juhani Vikainen, Tanja Ubaleht, Hannu Hämäläinen, Hanna Tammi, Juha Joro, Veronika Ringbom, Hanna Varis and Petra Kallio.
The association has been active from the founding moments. Numerous exhibitions held around Finland have ensured that printmaking has indeed been brought to public attention. The association has also been the representative of its hometown with several exhibitions abroad, the first ones taking place already in 1934 in Moscow and Riga as well as in Czechoslovakia and Germany the following year. In 1938 the association was represented in England at an exhibition arranged by the Nordic Graphic Union at the Victoria & Albert Museum. During the war the activity was naturally limited but was restored in the 1950’s when art equipment again became more attainable. Exhibitions have been held in Sweden, the Soviet Union, West-Germany, Turkey and Italy. In Finland exhibitions have been arranged in different towns with the rate of approximately three per year. The association has made printmaking known also by arranging meetings where the different techniques have been presented and explained to the public.
The association has also promoted the professional activities of its members by various measures. On the association’s initiative, the city of Turku has arranged printmaking competitions in 1956, 1961 and 1969. Courses on different techniques have also been arranged for the members. With the city’s support the association has had its own studio since 1967. In the studio the members have a possibility to work with intaglio and lithography. Since 1981 the association has also had its own sale collection.
Now there are over 100 members in the association and 99 supporting members. Supporting member activity has been part of the association’s agenda from the very beginning. Already during the first year a sample collection of four portfolios containing one print donated by each active member was assembled. The collection went around and each of the supportive members could reserve one print, which they’d receive with a bit of luck with the lottery at the end of the year. Later eight to ten works were allotted among the members. In 1971 a new practice was introduced; each supportive member will annually receive a new print for the membership fee.