William Morris’ Albion press for sale
William Morris’ Albion press for sale
Catherine Brooks, Moon Breath, 2012
Burnished Aquatint on Gampi, 10x10”
See Catherine Brooks’ work at Adventureland Works on Paper gallery, Chicago
Making the Case for Analogue at @lcclondon.
While I disagree with the closure of such courses, and the general direction many HE colleges are going in closing the expensive to run and often specialist programmes, I think that the BA (Hons) Book Arts and Design course at LCC has inevitably changed from the craft-based course I graduated from in 2006 after the retiring of all but one of the “old school” bookbinding tutors. Not sure how the current crop of graduating students from the course feel about the skills they have learned, and how they compare to what we were taught in BA (Hons) Book Arts and Crafts…
Beautiful process, hand-marbled posters for Leeds Print Festival
Print making at Central Saint Martins
16 January – 25 February 2012
Analogue/Digital: 100 Years of Printmaking at Central Saint Martins
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm
Lethaby Gallery, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square King’s Cross, London N1C 4AA.
Central St Martins College of Art and Design is holding an exhibition mapping 100 years of printmaking at the college, as part of a wider initiative promoting the college’s partial move to the Byam Shaw Campus in Archway. The school is home to CSM’s print studio, which houses a range of printmaking equipment, from early print machines to the latest in digital technology. The exhibition covers work spanning 100 years, including pieces by Eric Gill, Eduardo Paolozzi, Yinka Shonibare and Mary Katrantzou. Techniques on show will be equally broad, including wood engraving, lithography, digital and 3D printmaking.
Photography & Print exhibition
27 January – 5 February 2012
22-Line unidentified slab serif wood type on Flickr.
After my short stay in Chicago, I took the Amtrak to Milwaukee, and on to Two Rivers, Wisconsin to meet Museum Director Jim Moran at the world-renowned Hamilton Wood Type Museum, the only museum in the world “dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type.”
Hamilton Wood Type Museum, Two Rivers
The museum is a real gem and a must-see for anyone interested in letterpress print history. The most impressive aspect is that it’s a working museum, and so the century- old equipment is still being used to cut new wood type from decades-old patterns into maple blocks. They also house an impressive print shop, and of course, thousands of wood type founts - some of which are up to four feet tall. If you’ve not seen it yet, grab a copy of Typeface by Justine Nagan.
Original hand-carved wood type, c.1826 by Darius Wells, Hamilton Wood Type Museum
From Two Rivers it was back to Milwaukee to catch the Empire Builder. After a peaceful train journey along the Mississippi, I arrived in Minneapolis St. Paul where I would be spending a number of weeks as Visiting Artist at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA).
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
MCBA is widely-considered to be the model for an educational book arts centre. It is the largest and most comprehensive in the States. The Center was opened by a group of book arts practitioners and enthusiasts in 1985, and steadily grew until 2000 when the Center relocated to purpose-built premises at the Open Book building. The main values that underpin the Center are to “…share a passion for the artist’s book and its power to inform and inspire audiences, past, present and future. [the Center] honours and supports the book artist.”
Printing in the letterpress studio, MCBA
The wealth of activity happening at the Center is truly inspiring. In particular the schools programme, which integrates book arts techniques into the teaching curriculum. An environment where children and young adults are encouraged to explore book arts as part of their curriculum cannot be a bad thing.
For adults MCBA offers a wide-range of teaching, mentoring and open-access facilities. There is an artists’ co-op, currently with 12 members, who have access to the Center’s print, binding and papermaking facilities and meet regularly to hold critiques and advice sessions. A residency programme occurs three times a year allowing book artists to spend an intensive three months at the Center. There are also fellowships and a Collectors Forum, which exists to further promote the acquisition and dissemination of artists’ books produced at the Center, and to encourage philanthropy in book arts.
Em Space Book Arts Center, Portland
Next stop on my travels was to west coast, and Portland, Oregon to visit Em Space Book Arts Center. Em Space was born when a group of Portland artists and printers decided to pool resources,share their presses and equipment and form a co-operative. They rent a 1,500 sq. ft. light industrial unit in the south east of the city. Studio costs are covered by membership, classes and through the rental of artists’ studios housed in the upper mezzanine level of the building.
After my stay in Portland I proceeded south along the west coast to San Francisco. I had the pleasure of visiting the M&H Type Foundry, one of the only remaining lead type foundries in the country, and Andrew Hoyem’s Arion Press. From San Francisco, I visited Berkeley to visit the impressive studio of printer Peter Koch, who has been involved in producing fine press and artists’ books for more than forty years. Koch is responsible for the creation of the Codex Foundation, an organisation devoted to preserving and promoting the art and craft of the book. From San Francisco, the last fortnight of my travels were spent enjoying the Pacific coast and taking a little time to unwind before heading back to London after ten weeks of rewarding, if exhausting, travel and research.
The trip has provided me with a great deal of inspiration. Why is it that we do not have similar provision on such a scale as that of the New York Center for Book Arts, MCBA and Em Space in the UK? How can students graduating from arts courses sustain and develop their practice after leaving the fold of the college print room and bindery?
Sure, there are printmaking studios that offer workshops and classes in binding and book arts, and there are letterpress printers who offer tuition, but nothing to the same scale. The provision of education and access to facilities needs to be sustainable and encourage development in artists’ practice, not merely a weekend-long course with no room for progression.
I want to change this. It seems so blindingly obvious now. We need our very own centre for book arts here in the UK. If you build it, they will come. Right?
A community of artists, craftspeople, designers, all under the same roof. It’s this cross-pollination of ideas, of backgrounds, this melting pot, that makes a robust centre like the ones featured really flourish.
Now, who’s with me? Register your interest here. Share your passion, be a part of it, shape the future and get involved.
Like many, I’d always had an American Dream. I’d always wanted to visit. I’d read the books, I’d looked from afar, longing to make the journey. The time had come for me to cross the Atlantic and finally see for myself.
So I packed my bags and started a three month adventure to understand why the “book arts” culture was thriving in America. I managed to arrange ten-weeks unpaid leave from my full-time job to take the trip of a lifetime: New York City to Los Angeles, via Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and San Francisco.
Landing in New York in early May, after a day of obligatory exploring, I met with Dennis Yuen of Studio CaiLun. Yuen is a book artist, and runs a popular blog detailing a multitude of bindings and book works that he produces from his home studio. We had been in contact for a number of years via online social networks, so Yuen agreed to meet and do a short book arts-themed walking tour of the city. Our first stop was along the High Line, an elevated park built on an old railway line, to see the infamous independent bookshop Printed Matter.
Printed Matter, New York
Printed Matter is the world’s largest non-profit dedicated to promoting artist-produced publications and multiples, with a shop-front space of approximately 1,500 sq. ft. in a prominent location in the Chelsea art district. There are hundreds of titles, many international, and all of which fit within the definition of the democratic multiple. It’s a testament to the community of artists, staff and customers that the store is still thriving since opening its doors in 1976.
Printed Matter, New York
A short walk took us to our next stop, the New York Center for Book Arts - the oldest of the open-access book arts centres in the country. It was opened in 1974 by bookbinder Richard Minsky as the first non-for-profit organisation of its type.
The Bindery, New York Center for Book Arts
The Center fills a floor of approximately 5,000 sq.ft., It offers an impressive studio containing a generous typesetting area, a letterpress print area with five proof presses, a large guillotine, a huge foil blocking press, a treadle platen press and various hand platens. The bindery contains finishing, laying, standing and nipping presses, board shears and another guillotine, as well as other bits of bookbinding equipment.
Baltimore Print Studios, Baltimore
Next stop Baltimore, where I paid a visit to letterpress printers and tutors Kyle Van Horn and Kim Bentley. The couple recently opened Baltimore Print Studios, an open access space specialising in screen and letterpress printing; another beautiful workshop with various screen, platen and Vandercook proofing presses. The space opened in October 2010 and the couple run regular workshops in screen and letterpress.
Baltimore Print Studios, Baltimore
Next stop: Chicago. The Center for Book and Paper Arts (CBPA) is part of Columbia College Chicago, a private arts and media college. I chatted with the Director, Steve Woodall, amidst the hustle and bustle of the first week of graduate shows, with students and visitors milling around the Center’s galleries. The Center opened as part of the college in 1993, with the mission of “advancing research and innovation in the interdisciplinary practices of the artist’s book and hand papermaking, providing support for our graduate programs, and engaging the public through lectures, workshops, exhibitions and events”.
Three courses are offered at the Center: MA in Interdisciplinary Arts, MFA in Interdisciplinary Book & Paper Arts, and MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts & Media. Paper making plays a large part in the Center’s teaching activity owing to the Center’s first director being a paper maker. The equipment and facilities are outstanding: a large, open area with drainage, numerous paper beaters, moulds, deckles, presses and the like.
I took a tour of the CBPA’s letterpress, bindery and print facilities. The studio has wealth of both wood and lead type available to students and studio members, and full use of the Center’s numerous proof presses and fantastic binding facilities. Graduates of the MA and MFA courses often return to the Center as artists in residence, which provides them with a level of support that can be lacking in the period after leaving college. Residencies are also available to international artists and advanced practitioners, some of which are funded by private and state grants made available to the institution.