During lockdown I taught myself to use an old Adana 8×5 desktop printing machine using metal letterpress type. While looking for ‘how to letterpress print’ manuals I discovered an old chapbook, printed by J Kendrew, in his workshop now the site of the wonderful ‘Barnitts’ superwares store. This chapbook, ‘The World Turned Upside Down or No News, and Strange News’ is a collection of nonsense rhymes adorned with woodcut prints that gives a bit of a quirky insight into life back then.
So inspired by this title, in the heat of lockdown, I made a number of linocuts and some rhymes, and this is the result. Click here to open a pdf.
From doing this I then worked with Explore York to create a community led ‘participatory’ version #Haiflu Edition. See here.
If you would like a copy, ‘The World Turned Upside Down 2020 – A Covid 19 Chapbook’ get in touch. I’ll ask you to donate something to a good cause, and then I’ll post you one.
This is a modern take on an old chapbook, first printed in York 200 years ago, documents some of the experiences of lockdown from people in York. Working with Explore York, poets Penny Boxall and Janet Dean and inspired by Liv’s Torc’s Project Haiflu, we got people to share haiku poems and doodles about life during lockdown in York. Which I then hand printed a limited edition with letterpress type on a reclaimed Adana 8×5 desktop printing machine.
Disability Equality North West is a deaf and disabled peoples organisation in Preston. Despite the difficulties this year they’ve kept going. I really enjoyed working with them all to make this audio visual poem piece to capture their powerful community spirit.
How’s your lockdown been? What’s inspired you? What’s challenged you? How have you changed? What are your hopes for the future?
Am very happy to be part of this with Explore York that is hear from people about their experience of lockdown and make sense of the very strange year that 2020 has become. We are asking people in York to send us poems and drawings that we will use to create a lasting record of what has happened in our lives. The project is called World Turned Upside Down 2020 #haiflu edition.
See here for more details of the project and how to get involved.
York is one of eight areas taking part in, ‘Bags of Creativity’, which will distribute 8000 bags to children and young people in Yorkshire and Humber. Each bag includes 60 creative activity postcards and a range of arty materials. See more here.
I provided the following three postcard designs to be included in these #bagsofcreativity.
Drawing on material from the Explore York archive this piece presents five local historical moments, within a theme of ‘crime and punishment’. Four of these moments are highlighted with example fonts from a specimen book produced by York’s Delittle Wood Type Manufacturer. A fifth moment is presented using a woodcut print taken from an account of the trial and execution of James Moseley and William Roberts in 1822. This piece is one of three banners created for Explore York, one focused on how we came to have a free library in York and another on a history of protest in York.
Game – Following his execution for highway robbery in 1792, Spence Broughton’s body was displayed in a gibbet until the 1820s. A letter he wrote to his wife on the eve of his death, in which he pleads for her to warn their children of the baneful vice of gaming, was mass printed as a form of criminal deterrent propaganda.
Bounder – Entry in the York Castle Prison Goalers Journal on 25th March 1852 describing the attempted escape by several prisoners. The Goaler records, whilst transporting 14 prisoners by train to the ‘Wakefield House of Correction’, a scuffle and a convict by the name of ‘Ellis’ jumping from the train.
Desired – Edward Rayer and Thomas Sykes charged with having on 2nd July 1843 last, at Halifax, in West Riding, feloniously, wickedly and diabolically committed an offence against the order of nature. The couple were found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to death.
Quack – Account of the commissioning in 1652 and installation by Edmund Giles of a ducking stool at the ‘Crane House’ Skeldergate, York.
Woodcut print – Taken from an account of the trial and execution of James Moseley and William Roberts for murder and highway robbery in 1822.
Delittle Wood type specimen book – A catalogue of various wood type examples produced by the Delittle Wood type manufacturer in York. The catalogue includes a random array of unrelated and somewhat obscure words, icons and border designs.
‘What do you hope for the future said the Reindeer?’ (2019)
‘What do you hope for the future said the Reindeer?’ was created with children from Park Grove Academy Class 7 and 9 who painted and assembled parts of the reindeer, printing a word on each in response to the question ‘what do you hope for the future?’.
The children gave responses that are both thoughtful and hopeful. They then read and audio recorded these words, which can be heard in random order at the press of the red button.
The ‘Reindeer’, ‘Magpie’ and ‘Ox’ were previous pubs in The Groves area which were mentioned by interviewees in a recent ‘consultation and oral history’ report commissioned by the City of York council as part of the current Groves regeneration project.
The plan is to create further pieces of a Magpie and an Ox with others in the Groves, and from this work up an Aesops fable style story based on these characters, imagining positively as we do so what sort of community future we want.
Recently I worked with the Joyful Connections group who meet at St Luke’s Church in Burton Stone Lane. Together we created the following lino cut portrait ‘group print’ piece. Beginning with smiley photos we digitally traced and transferred the images onto lino. Next while chatting about ‘what makes us happy and well?’ We carved out the faces in the lino. Once carved, on a large and colourful sheet we printed the happy faces.Then using a old wooden typeset, from the Delittle wood type foundary of York, part of the things we said while chatting about ‘what makes us happy and well’ were printed around the faces.
This includes things like ‘this is a friendly place’, ‘if anything goes wrong, people come round you, they surround you’, ‘I keep positive, cos there’s still an awful lot of people to annoy’ and ‘there’s a strong sense of comradeship, community here’. Then once dry, the piece was framed for the group.Joyful connections is a cracking group. Such a remarkably happy and supportive network, for more details of them see here.
In March 19, I was fortunate enough to have an interview for the role of ‘York’s Town Crier’. While I did not get the job, part of the interview process was to prepare a ‘cry’, and so this is what I said, quite loudly outside the council office one cold friday in March . A pdf version of the above is available here too.