Friday 1 February 2019

Launch of the Thin Ice Press & Moveable Type Exhibition - University of York

The launch of the Thin Ice Press, which is the University of York Department of English & Related Literature's new letterpress studio, took place on 24 January 2019.  The name is inspired by York printer, Thomas Gent's entrepreneurial actions.  In 1739 the River Ouse froze over and a frost fair was held on the ice.  Gent got together some printing kit and set up on the ice printing souvenirs.   

The studio is used for teaching, research, public workshops and collaborations.  There are plans to combine world leading scholarship, letterpress traditions and design, bringing together printers, makers, artists and authors.  A current project involves building a replica wooden common press based on the remains of such a press believed to belong to Gent himself.  You can read more here.

1838 Clymer & Dixon Columbian Press

It was great to be able to see the printing presses.  I was able to have a go on the Clymer & Dixon Columbian Press to print a "Thin Ice" poster after the printing blocks had been inked up ready to go.

Printing blocks inked up
My print
We also saw a demo of the Arab Press, involving impressive hand and foot co-ordination, to produce these cards...

Sample card printed on the 1926 Arab Press

Next up was Nick Hand and the Printing Bike.  This bike had been built to carry an Adana 8x5 Printing Press.  I printed an extract from the Monotype Recorder on a card printed with a shoe design by Hannah Cousins.

Printing Bike - Bicycle with Adana 8x5 Printing Press
Adana 8x5 Printing Press

Shoes designed by Hannah Cousins
My print

Nick had taken his printing bike from Land's End to John O'Groats, stopping on the way to talk to makers and craftspeople and produced a book in the process.  It was really interesting.  I was especially struck by the conversation with Philip and Nick Wright of Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield who made scissors. I have a pair of Wright scissors and they are excellent.

Conversations from Land's End to John O'Groats - Nick Hand

Apart from all the exciting oppotunities to look at the printing presses and have a go, the Moveable Type exhibition was on in the Norman Rae Gallery in Derwent College.  This exhibition explore's print's capacity to communicate, celebrating the letterpress revival and the art of the page. Combining the traditional with something new, here are a few images to give you a flavour of the exhibition...

Nick Hand, The Department of Small Works - Page from Journeyman
Jukhee Kwon - Red Book Tree
Jukhee Kwon - Red Book Tree (detail)

Artist Books
Design by William Nicholson for Mock Beggar's Hall by Robert Graves, Hogarth Press

Katy Stavreva, Foxden Press - Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Brooke Palmieri, Camp Books - Susan Sontag

Joanna Lisowiec - The Light-Keeper

Peter Allen, Whittington Press - The Puffin

David Armes, Red Plate Press - NYLYN

Jukhee Kwon - Not Anymore

Moveable Type is on until 8 February 2019 so you've still time to take a look.

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