Three years ago, I made the pilgrimage from Bristol to Mainz (where Gutenberg developed printing with moveable type) on the Printing Bike. Though the Printing Bike hasn’t exactly been in the shed since, I felt like it needed a proper challenge once more.
In early May I will set off from Land’s End and will wind my way up the spine of Britain to John O’Groats seeking out the makers in towns known for making one particular thing. In celebration of each craft and town, I will print a set of cards on the Adana 8×5″ press mounted on the back of the bicycle.
Hopefully the project will be funded by crowdfunding. I will be printing postcards illustrated by our favourite artists along the journey. In the autumn, these illustrations will be brought together with conversations with each craftsperson in a limited edition, large scale book printed at the Letterpress Collective. We will also be publishing a small book as a sequel to Conversations on the Coast; the book we created after my 2009 cycle ride around the coast of the British Isles. The project is inspired by the craftspeople I have met in the past and my ambition to celebrate the crafts, like letterpress printing, that are such an important part of this little country.
If you would like a set of cards posted to you from the Printing Bike or would like to order a book, please support the project on Kickstarter here
We have become the home of a two amazing Albion Presses, a large beauty made by Jonathan and Jerimiah Barrett of Finsbury in 1832. The platen is 18×24″ and it will be an amazing addition to workshops. The smaller Albion is made by Harrild and Sons in 1864 with a platen size of 11×16″. Both presses belong to the Burleigh Press who have been printing in Bristol for over one hundred years. It’s quite possible that Burleigh have owned the presses from new. Greg Corrigan one of Burleigh’s directors was keen that they return to near Lewins Mead where they started life.
Above: Simon Tozer illustrated us bringing the press into the printshop in early March 2017. And below the smaller press in place in studio 23 (our upstairs studio) at Centrespace.
We collaborated with Simon Tozer, who illustrated the beautiful Old City map that explores the crafts that helped build the central area of Bristol in the early part of the 1900s. The map was printed by Pat Randle at Nomad Letterpress on the brilliant Heidelberg cylinder press with type set and cast on Whittington’s Monotype caster (in Caslon). The maps which are 460x600mm will be available for £5 (and will be in our shop in the next week or two). The fold is based on a very nice vintage map of Carolina that I’ve had for years and always wanted to find a use for its neat folding pattern.
Our friends at Small Street Espresso, opened a really nice new café and bar in the new bit of Harbourside in Bristol called Wapping Wharf. Even better, they asked if we could print a huge letterpress signage system for the new place which is called Little Victories. We did some tests using 12 line Grot condensed wood type and tried a few boards. Then we went to work and produced an alphabetic system for them. And now it’s in use and looks pretty nice too.
It’s been a little while now since I rode the printing bike from Bristol to Mainz with Robin Mather (who designed and made the brilliant bicycle). On that 800 mile journey we printed postcards during overnight stops posting them to people who had supported the project on Kickstarter.
Since then the printing bike has had good use, riding to schools and printing on open days, at festivals: Port Eliot, The Good Life, fforest Gather and at FolkEast. We’ve also printed within Bristol printing postcards or beermats around the city. I have another longer journey planned this year. The bike was made to carry an Adana 8×5 printing press, but also to journey long distances, and I feel it has another epic adventure in it.
Following a lengthy session in the Christmas Steps pub late one winter’s evening. Stanley Donwood came up with the brilliant solution to the problem of Bristol’s ever increasing number of uplifting festivals ‘The Festival of Apathy’ with the idea that if you couldn’t be bothered to turn up at a particular event it was to be seen as a success. With that kind of thinking what could go wrong.
The festival with little effort went surprisingly well and included brilliant apathetic performances from BEAK, Three Cane Whale, Chrononautz and poet Rick Holland, a heart-felt debate about the EU referendum with Gruff Rhys & John Harris. A debate about the housing crisis with Dawn Foster, Owen Hatherley and Emma Jackson. Finishing off with a hilarious evening with the fine Ladybird book authors Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris. We even had our own film premiere of Stanley Donwood and Mat Consume’s brilliant Broadmead the movie with accompanying book (available in the shop). As apathy goes it was possibly the finest festival ever. Not forgetting the exhibition and the morning of printing (at Harts Bakery) and the support of our friends at Taxi Studio.
Friday 13th May, 6pm – Deliberately unlucky festival and exhibition opening night, featuring the launch of Bristol Free Press. We start things with a sound system and cider gala in Centrespace gallery for Bristol Free Press, a proper cider drinker’s cider.
Saturday 14 May, 8pm – The worldwide premiere of ‘Broadmead the Movie’*, a film by Stanley Donwood and Mat Consume, followed by a performance by the highly analogue Chrononautz and poet Rick Holland. Tickets: £10
Sunday 15 May, all day fun:
10am – 2pm: Bakery Intervention – Nick Hand and Ellen Bills from the Letterpress Collective will be demonstrating the art of apathetic family printing at Harts Bakery. Tickets from the bakery £6, or £15 for a family, includes a drink and pastry. Is there more to life than Sourdough? You’d like to think so wouldn’t you?
7.30pm – Whenever: A Sunday Night In Bristol – Make Sunday Shite with Grumpyman DJs & BEAK> will play a 30 min total improv set to soundtrack a recorded motivation speech on creativity (If they can be arsed). Free entry (admission by ticket only)
Wednesday 18 May, 7.30pm – A Screening of ‘Broadmead the Movie’*. Tickets: £5
Thursday 19 May, 7.30pm – A nice sit down evening with Three Cane Whale, civilized music for Apathetic People. Tickets £12.
Friday 20 May, 7.30pm – Hey You! What’s Up With The EU?
A debate about the EU referendum with Gruff Rhys & John Harris, with reference to – and screening of – the 2004 Greece v Portugal Euro final. Includes half time musical entertainment. Also post match Eurodisco and Mainland Prog from Shit DJ. Tickets £5
Tuesday 24 May, 7.30pm – How Do You Solve A Traditionally Crafted Housing Crisis?
A debate about the national emergency in housing with Dawn Foster, Owen Hatherley and Emma Jackson. Followed by a screening of ‘Broadmead: the Movie’*. Tickets £5
Wednesday 25 May, 7.30pm – Closing Night Literary Salon with Jason Hazeley, author of the best selling ‘Ladybird Book Of The Hangover’ including a power point analysis of the history and effects of the hangover. Free entry (admission by ticket only)
All apathetic events take place at Centrespace and Centrespace Gallery, 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol BS1 1EA (just along the little lane next to Stanfords on Corn Street). Tickets on sale there or at Bristol Ticket Shop (bristolticketshop.co.uk).
The exhibition will be open each day from 11-6pm each day 13th-25th May.
The Letterpress Collective print shop will be open as above (apart from Sunday 15th, when we will be printing at Harts Bakery).
We have a bar and a rig that can take SoME bass
Disclaimer: These events are all actually scheduled to happen. Please join us.
* if we can be arsed
Saturday 16 to Wednesday 27 May 2015, 11am to 6pm daily, free entry
Centrespace Gallery, Leonard Lane, Bristol BS1 1EA
The exhibition was based around music and print, and is a celebration of work from letterpress printers worldwide.
We would like to thank our friends at Taxi Studio for supporting this event.