I spent a happy five days last week at The Print Project, Shipley, West Yorkshire, on the Summer 2014 Letterpress Printing Workshop.
The last time I did any letterpress printing was in about 1980 or ’81 at Wolverhampton Polytechnic.
The week was great and really productive. After an overiew of what the Print Project had to offer and an introduction to the basics by Nick we were left to get on with it with Nick offering help, guidance and instruction as we worked on typesetting (wood and metal) and printing while drinking gallons of tea.
I used text from my New Opportunities Award project for content and made a small ‘8 page right-angle fold’ (with a cut) publication, letterpress printed with a wood type on the front (Latin 18pt Bold Condensed) with a wood ornament and a little bit of metal type. And on the back I cast hotmetal 14pt Record Gothic Bold for the headings and 12 and 10pt Garamond for the body copy. Forgot to make a note of the leading (space between between the lines of type).
The hotmetal was cast using the Ludlow hotmetal typecasting system. The type matrices or mats (for casting) are assembled in a stick (below, where you can see the line ‘The Factory Inquiry Commission, 1833.’) which is then slotted into the machine. In the second photo you can see the stick after the type has been cast. Molten lead is fired into the mat and a metal slug with the line of type ready for composing and printing is pushed out of the machine (the third photo).
One of the hardest parts of the week was having to work without a computer.
The hands-on and physical nature of letterpress printing meant I had to work more instinctively, with an idea of what something might look like, because other than sketching it, I couldn’t visualise it precisely as I would do normally with InDesign. The placement of the type on the paper was largerly a process of trial and error as you are working with physical mechanical elements that must be lined up, measured, nudged, and realigned to get – sometimes – only close to what was originally planned.
The Print Project is beside the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which runs through Shipley. I wallked alongside it everyday to and from my B&B at Baildon and these last three images are of other lettering examples from beside the the towpath.
Derbyshire Record Office
A couple of weeks ago I made my first visit to the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock for my New Opportunities Award (NOA) project. The NOA is for a collaborative project with Strutt’s North Mill Belper to make a series of moving image works that respond to the early history of the site, that will be installed in the museum for Easter 2015.
This intriguing parcel above was part of a number of items described in the online catalogue as ‘Watches, trinkets and other items, belonging to deceased lunatics with no known next-of-kin. Also a snuff box presented to Belper Union by Jack Strutt esq.’.
It proved to be a sad little collection of poor broken pocket watches and rings, which were all individually wrapped and stored in the snuff box.
The objects are from the Belper Union Workhouse, now the Babington Hospital, and in 1946 they were handed to the local authority when the building was transfered to ‘the ministry of Health under the National Health Service Act 1946′.
I’m looking for materials that capture elements of the day to day working lives of the people who were employed by the Strutts and this is clearly at a bit of a tangent to the project, but there is so little material available that speaks of the lives of those people, that I wanted to look at it, even if I can’t use it.
Thank you to the Derbyshire Record Office for permission to publish these images. The document reference number for all items is D19/CW/12/16.
Pillar to Post (and back again)
We were back at Strutt’s North Mill Belper again last week (Thursday 15 May) for a Museums at Night event. This time animation was projected onto 10 of the monumental mill-stone grit piers in the mill’s basement.
The new animation was stripped back to blocks of light and colour with short sequences that responded to the blocky rectangular geometry of the pillars. The animation playback was synched to an audio track using Isadora software. So unlike the last light and sound show – where we had to manual synch the separate laptops – for Pillar to Post the installation’s five laptops and projectors responded to the audio independently of any input from the team (once it had been setup to go).
Visitors were able to walk between the pillars affecting the animation by breaking the projection light beam and changing the animation sequences by adding their own audio in the form of shouting, clapping and stamping.
From Pillar to Post (and back again), animation by Stuart Poynton, Shane Mellor and Tim Shore with sound by Marc Bosward.
The Industrial Museum, Bradford and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, nr. Wakefield
Last weekend we travelled up to South Square Gallery, Thornton (nr. Bradford) to collect my installation ‘Place Setting’ which was shown in ‘The Most Beautiful Things Cannot Be Seen’ exhibition.
Then we retraced our steps to Bradford and the Industrial Museum. Which was interesting, especially the detailed self-guided trail explaining the journey from wool to worsted cloth. Also interesting is the monotype typecaster, with its punched role of instruction. Good description here but no pictures!
Then on Sunday after enjoying a view of Bradford’s infamous hole (thank you Westfield) from the window of our room in the Midland Hotel we went home via the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
The second and third images are small details from the very large work of Ursula von Rydingsvard. The lovely shingle, which really was this bleached out colour clads the ‘Eat, drink, Enjoy’ snack shack sitting outside the Longside Gallery where the survey show ‘Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966 – 1979′ is currently on.
Uncommon Ground features some lovely Boyle Family work and a surprising Derek Jarman film that reminded me of an early work by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (formerly Spartacus Chetwynd) called The Walk to Dover (2005) which I saw at Studio Voltaire, Clapham. In that film she performed David Copperfield’s seven-day journey from London to Dover described in the book of the same name by Charles Dickens.
The last picture is of the Emley Moor transmitting station seen from Basket #7.Oxley Bank by Winter/Hörbelt.
Rebirth: light and sound show at Strutt’s North Mill Belper
So the event on Saturday 29 March went well. Sarah (mill manager) and Ruth (engagement officer) reckoned we had about 120 visitors for the show.
While Stuart set up the laptops I measured and cut out film to stick to the windowpanes of the six windows, each window had six panes, so we had to measure, cut and stick 36 sheets. Meanwhile Stuart discovered that the laptops went to sleep after five minutes and we didn’t have administrator rights to cancel the sleep mode.
Still it all worked well. We staggered the startup of each laptop by the time it physically took to get each one going. So a relaxed synchronisation and a kind off delayed playback coupled with running or crawling (in my case) to each laptop to tap its trackpad to ward off sleep. Not live but certainly performative animation happened behind the scenes and largely out of view of the audience.
We are reworking the animation and sequencing for the North Mill’s ‘Museums at Night’ event on May 15. We will project the animation onto eight of the 26 monumental stone piers – all that is left of Jedediah Strutt’s first mill (1786) that burnt down in 1803 – that form the foundation of the ‘new’ mill built in 1804.
Strutt’s North Mill Belper
We want to reference some of the elemental forces that helped shape the mill including fire, water and iron. Strutt’s North Mill was built in 1804 and is one of the oldest surviving examples of an industrialised, iron framed ‘fire proof’ building. The first mill burnt down.
I’ve used mono prints made during the printing of the first card template (below). I was thinking of iron being cast and the firey furnace and also some of the fantastic footage used in ‘The Big Melt – How Steel Made Us Hard‘ (Martin Wallace and Jarvis Cocker).
This will form part of a larger work made with Stuart Poynton and Marc Bosward (sound). It will be projected onto the windows of Strutt’s North Mill Belper this weekend (7pm on Saturday 29 March).
More animation for Strutt’s North Mill Belper
I’m making very short animation sequences using a convoluted, complex (relatively) slow process.
The gif (top) is the result of drawing the animation in Illustrator, then laser cutting the individual frames from corrugated card, followed by relief printing the frame matrix with black ink onto 40gsm newsprint. When the ink is dry the sheet is cut into individual frames that are then scanned and photoshoped before assembly and timing in AfterEffects.
The process needs refining. I like the finished result but it’s a bit too ordered or regular. I was hoping for more of the unexpected and that the various format changes and translations would add a greater range of ‘mistakes’ or random events into the workflow.
As I make these sequences I’m thinking about slow animation that is beyond the control of the animator and that through an engagement with a range of machine processes (both analogue and digital) I can attempt to foreground both animation’s craft legacy and its constructed nature. A project to make animation visible again.
Maybe animation is sited in the frame after all and not in the gap between frames?
My sequences will form part of a larger work made with Stuart Poynton and Marc Bosward (sound). It will be projected onto the windows of Strutt’s North Mill Belper this weekend (7pm on Saturday 29 March).
Sample images and treatments for ‘Rebirth’ a light and sound projection made with Stuart Poynton and Marc Bosward. A looped animation made from a patchwork of short animation sequences will be projected onto the windows of the first floor and basement of Strutt’s North Mill Belper as part of the celebrations to mark the museum’s Summer Opening event.
The animation will be projected from inside the museum onto six windows that will be covered with a translucent film. A lot of animation to make and stitch together before the event on Saturday 29 March 2014 (7pm).
Howarth, Saturday, 8 February 2014.
Last Saturday we walked from Haworth up on to the moor and Top Withens, on the Pennine Way, a little below Withins Height.
This farmhouse has been associated with “Wuthering Heights”, the Earnshaw home in Emily Brontë’s novel. The buildings, even when complete, bore no resemblance to the house she described, but the situation may have been in her mind when she wrote of the moorland setting of the Heights.
Bronte Society, 1964
This plaque has been placed here in response to many inquiries
See Simon Warner’s 2012 project ‘Ways to the stone house‘, commissoned by The Watershed Landscape Project and the Brontë Parsonage Museum, for more information about the site and its landscape. The exhibition included iconic images of Top Withens by Bill Brandt, Fay Godwin and a drawing by Slyvia Plath, who also wrote the poem Wuthering Heights (1961).