Printing the Page

A workshop in letterpress printing and poetry, presented in partnership with the Print Council of Australia (PCA) at the State Library of Victoria (SLV) in the superbly be-columned Keith Murdoch Gallery, 31 May 2016.

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Coordinated and introduced by artist, teacher, printmaker, typesetter Marian Crawford from Monash University School of Art, Design & Architecture, with the help of typesetters (for the day) Greg Harrison and Carolyn Fraser; printers (for the day) Richard Harding, Andrew Gunnell and Rosalind Atkins; PCA representatives Emily Kiddell & Marguerite Brown; artists and passionate makers of books Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison; and poet Francesca Sasnaitis. With special thanks to Suzie Gasper and the staff of the SLV.

Setting lead type by hand conjures a new set of possibilities for poets and poems. The creative process now also involves:

  • the feel of the paper; its weight and texture
  • the smell of ink and solvent and the smell of freshly printed pages
  • the sound of the Adana Press as the rollers pass over the round plate and the strength the printer has to exert on the handle in order to keep rollers moving the ink smoothly across the plate
  • the look of the type; the spacing between letters and words, the spaces around, making judgements by ruler and by eye
  • taste has yet to find a place in this process, but I’m working on it 😉

Happy poets learning the painstaking skills of typesetting with Marian, Greg and Carolyn. And even happier watching the results of their efforts roll off our trio of Adana presses—with Andrew, Ros and Richard.

The printed pages ably stitched together by Louise, using a simple Japanese 4-hole technique. Not bad for a day’s work! The poem by Sandra Dunstone is one of 15 fine examples of three line poems.

The day winds down with talks and poetry readings:

  • Marian Crawford introduces the project, talks about the relationship of the fine art print to the printed page and the book, and the role of the PCA.
  • Carolyn Fraser talks about the history of small presses, the late 19th century development of table top presses and how they gave rise to an amateur journalism fad among teenagers in the United States
  • Francesca Sasnaitis describes her image/text collaboration with Marian Crawford and reads from The Unstable Edge.
  • Marian and Francesca read a selection of the poems printed earlier in the day.

Without prejudice I declare the day a resounding success!!

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