The Magic Of Screen Printing 1949 – ’61

Breaking New Territory

“This is the work of a person who is captivated by the possibilities of this new and exciting process.” Dr Will Bridge, Head of London College of Printing (LCP), 2002

Francis Carr is widely regarded as a one of the main instigators and exponents of early screen printing (Serigraphs) as a creative print medium in this country. During this period he exhibited, taught and wrote numerous articles culminating in a seminal book A Guide to Screen Process Printing, published by London Vista Books 1961. A comprehensive exhibition of his work was held The Creative Screen, with Dorothy Carr at the Eckersley Gallery, London College of Printing 2002. This was the first time their work had been seen together since the 1950’s.

Serigraphy – direct drawing on a silk screen, from the Latin sericus, silk and the Greek graphia, drawing. The process was developed in the United States in 1938 to encourage inexpensive printmaking and used to touch up and give life to the final poster work.




After The Storm 1949 belongs to the Romantic landscape revival 1940-50s, exhibited in the Arts Council’s 1978 exhibition, The Mechanized Image.

In his own words “…very little had been explored up to this point and I set out deliberately to improvise on the screen and work with the possibilities of the medium….it took three exciting and frustrating months and thirty two states to complete the first print…I could not control or for see the results…my discovery became a revelation and each later print marks a stage in my development.”

Extract from a letter written to Dave Williams, American print dealer 1987.


Encounter with Screenprinting

In 1948 Francis Carr was offered a part time teaching post at Guilford School of Art on the proviso he taught screen printing. He set out to master the process by enrolling for a new course taught by F.W. Mackensie at the School of Photoengraving, Bolt Court, one of the founding schools of London College of Printing. Essentially a course for technicians he learnt the artists side from consulting mainly American books. His experiments culminated in After The Storm, to his  knowledge the first serigraph to be produced in the UK. He became a protagonist of the process, which at the time was regarded as crude by the art establishment.




Francis Carr took his subject matter from the world around him. He was interested in people, the city and in everyday life returning time and time again to his beloved theme of the city St Pauls (featured above).

In 1950 Francis and Dorothy Carr  took part in Art In The Open Air, Embankment Gardens ( a popular feature of London life), exhibiting Serigraphs. As far as it is known, this was the first time British examples of this approach had been seen.

This lead to a commission with London Transport to design a poster for The Lord Mayors Show for the London Underground. Now in the collection of The London Transport Museum.

In 1954 he held the post of lecturer in screen printing, London College of Printing at Back Hill, and proved to be an inspirational mentor, he taught a number of artists, including Eduardo Paolozzi. During this time he met Chris Prayter who established Kelphra Studio. In 1957 he organized the first exhibition of fine art silk screenprints at the Folio Society, London which included prints by Dorothy Carr. Francis  carried on responding to the medium and experimented with applying print to a variety of surfaces :- enamel, glass. plastic vacuum form relief, sculptures, tiles and mosaics, marrying imaginative ideas with the technique. An example of this can be seen in the Magic Garden printed mixed media mosaic, commissioned by London County Council (GLC) for New Kings School (former Holman Hunt Infant School) in 1961. It was restored in 2008.

“The scope of the medium has been extended by technology and the creative spirit endures. The medium is the message.” Francis Carr