After my trip to St Brides in London, I reflected on the distance travelled by exhibitors and visitors to the Wayzgoose (myself included). I asked myself:
Do I have to travel to the Capital in search of Letterpress activity and gatherings? Were there opportunities closer to home?
The changes in printing methods needed for sharing information and the ways in which we access this information has changed dramatically since the last century.
The massive news rooms employing hundreds of compositors setting the followings days headlines and stories in sticks and hot metal have disappeared. As well as publishing houses, presses and smaller local printers they replaced (and the vast majority sadly destroyed) the old with new litho and digital trickery. So seeing Letterpress Printing ‘in action’ is rarer than it was.
There are however a few artists* that have not changed their processes, despite the new technology who have continued to use type to create their printed wares and more still that work with the old and the new side by side. (Using Polymer/Magnesium printing plates on vintage presses)
A few still print short stories and poems, sharing type or even having new founts cast. A handful of foundries still exist creating new type and melting worn/damaged sorts to cast ‘new’ if the molds (matrices) are still available and in good condition.
So we do have to travel further but in June 2017 the inaugural Shipley (Bradford) Wayzoose happened and also the first Baskerville Wayzgoose (in Clyro, Hereford) did too. Other Wayzgooses (??) in Bristol, Birmingham, Whittington (Cheltenham) and according to this lovely ARTICLE (which explains the history and mystory of this tradition) GRIMSBY are annual events already so it was heartening to hear of these new celebrations starting to happen.
I was excited to visit the Shipley celebration as I was a fan of Nick Loaring’s work with THE PRINT PROJECT and he had organised the event in his home town.
Smaller in scale than the St Brides event the enthusiasm was matched by the people in attendance who were in the majority based in the North of England and delighted to have the opportunity to meet and gather with their peers and view work created using the process.
The positive feedback means this will happen again in 2018 and I will be applying to take part.
I also chatted to fellow printers about the the possibility of setting up a branch of the BPS as the nearest group was Shropshire and would we benefit form a Northern/North West cohort?
Once again this offered me the chance to catch up with fellow Letterpress printers only known and admired through the power of social media. And how lovely that the feeling seemed mutual.