When Ruth and I initially discussed the project, we looked at risograph techniques as an area of learning which could benefit us both and steer the research outcomes towards an end publication. Although my practice now incorporates much more digital working, in earlier years it was more embedded in printmaking, so I was keen to explore a new technique that offered the possibility of bridging the various areas of my practice.
If it’s not something you know about (skip this para if you do), risograph is something like a cross between screen printing and photocopying – at a cursory glance, Risograph machines look almost identical to older photocopiers. The glass bed at the top allows artwork to be scanned in and the machine then creates a ‘master’, a stencil wrapped around an ink drum. This stencil then allows you to run off multiple duplicates of the image at high speed. The machine can hold two ink drums at any one time and colour drums can be swapped in and out, so that layers of colour can be built up. Like many printmaking techniques, the skill level required can range from beginner to expert; some basics are easy, and some outcomes possible need considerable experience and application.
Ruth had researched Rabbits Road Press a community Risograph print studio and publishing press based in East London. We were fortunate enough to be able to combine our learning session with a group from The Old Waterworks which made for a great sense of a team outing (though it added some complexities for my BSL interpreter, Jilly). Working with Etta at Rabbits Road, we learned not only how risograph works, but the technical issues and complexities to consider when selecting and developing an image (as shown in the four-colour risograph example we collectively printed. Additionally we got to see a huge variety of work, both that produced at Rabbits Road, and works that are part of their collection, which really helped me think through the potential of the medium. A fantastic day of learning and sharing.