Nice to be asked to be ‘artist-in-residence’ at a new art space and tea-shop in Brick Lane. The Hawkhurst Vault, is named for the Hawkshurst Gang, a notorious group of 18th century smugglers. You can see 10 tea-inspired prints there, until July- I’ll be there myself on the 12th July, for a print sale. They do a nice bit of cake too.
Never thought I’d write one of those posts that start ‘Sorry I haven’t posted so long, been busy’, but this sort of is one of those.. (Also clearing out my photos, and thought I’d share).
Earlier in the year, me, and some other local artists, had an exhibition at Leytonstone London Underground Station – well their old smoko room (thank you TFL). Even got a proofing press and the Johnston typeface, out for a bit of community printing.
Printing with the Chief Operating Officer of London Underground.
Maybe its a longing to fish, nicotine withdrawal, or perhaps comforting thoughts of cold smoked trout- fresh from a home-made box smoker, which lead to this print.
Wild lake trout with orange-nearing-red flesh to rival any salmon, lightly rubbed with salt, brown sugar and cured slowly over smouldering manuka chips, was something of a promise and all too quickly devoured, as a kid, living at Lake Rotoiti (South Island), NZ.
Old timers with all manner of favourite lures, rose early to troll the lake from small powered wooden craft. Their advice to us kids was ‘try a black and gold toby’ at the creek mouths.
The old fish block (‘zinco’) chosen for this work, was probably used to print menus or maybe advertise fishing tackle. The circa 1950′s fish block seems to be a reproduction of a Victorian woodcut of an over stuffed Atlantic Salmon (a very close relative of the brown trout), though the actual species is kind of ambiguous.
Initially printed with the intention of using two-colour woodtype, the simplicity of a single colour grot with no outline won the day.
Chuffed to have had three works accepted in the 918 Letterpress Ephemera Show; alongside some great artists and printers. Not sure if some people misinterpret one of the works I submitted (below)! The individual bullet blocks (rounds) date from around 1880 (or possibly older), when I’m sure wars, were generally, just as futile.
The copper-topped bullet blocks were the bi-product of a journey to salvage some fly-fishing blocks from one of the oldest sports shops in Otago NZ. They were most likely used in newspaper adverts aimed at small game hunters or, at a stretch, for gold diggers in the lucrative days of the Otago Gold Rush?
Glad to see BBC2 is showing a drama based on the story of The Wipers Times.
For those who haven’t heard about it – it was a trench-based newspaper, started after a couple of infantry soldiers found a treddle-platten in war-torn Ypres. Go check it out (or “The Best Bits” book, from Ian Hislop and Malcolm Brown) – dark humour that’s exceptionally funny.
The ability of the printing press to bring some happiness to people in such dire circumstances, almost brings a tear to the eye. A friend told me a similar, but more recent story; during the Sri-lankan civil war, the northern town of Jaffna was cut off by the government.. but a local paper (Uthayan) was able to continue by rediscovering letterpress printing and get information to its readership, in a country synonymous with state-censorship and misinformation.
The above work, uses Stephenson Blake 10 line Johnston woodtype circa 1916 (as used on the tube); in honour of underground presses!
Great great grand-daddy Platford: ploughman and horse-doctor
Managed to get up to Norfolk, last week, where apparently a fair few of my genes are from. The pictures of John Platford, an ancestor who worked on the Holkham estate in the north of the county. Its a lovely bit of the world and they have a little museum on the estate, but I felt a bit irked at helping support the aristos (who still live there) by buying their beers and scones.
More my thing was the wonderful Jarrold printing museum, where volunteers staff what was once a huge working press by the river Wensum.
They have an amazing array of letterpress and litho presses; and had the foresight to start the museum up in the 1980′s.
Sadly I only had a couple of days to look around- didn’t even get to see the broads, or even find out if theres any fishing up there. Will definitely be back.
A long search for chromatic woodtype came up trumps, with several new founts acquired this week.
Give Me Hops celebrates this wonderful herbaceous perennial and the upsurge in independent craft brewers creating hoppy IPA’s and Stouts.
The word HOPS was printed with shaded type, chosen as its ornamentation beers an uncanny resemblance to hop cone scales and the young leaves of the plant.
There is no makers name on this Victorian 30-Line shaded type, though it is likely to be UK made – Ideas anyone?
Registering the second colour went fairly well though there was some variation due to the handmade nature and age of the type, as well as the intricacies of hand feeding for second passing on the press - though imperfection is good right?