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It was never the plan, but having worked for more than four years now on the legacy of the First World War in our project, An Unknown Soldier, we were keen to create a considered commemoration of this Centenary year, 2014.

Grand Eagle (capitals and columns)

Grand Eagle (capitals and columns)

Grand Eagle (capitals and columns) is a civic-sized quotation from An Unknown Soldier. The main text is our soldier’s own paradoxical definition of humanity “Able damned est/ N thing worth saving/ N harvest thrives/ On our mass graving.” Beneath we have chosen an epitaph from Preparatory Oratory “MCMXIV fire guns at a useless trajectory MMXIV”, screenprinted in gold.

The enlarged capitals, as found in medieval manuscripts, spell out ANNO to remind us of the centenary year, but also suggest capital cities found on a map of the world, surrounded by fortifications in the shape of each sentence, or perhaps columns of soldiers marching towards the sump that forms the gutter of a trench, or the vanishing point of no-man’s land.

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We had a wonderful time up on the stage at Conway Hall, thank you to all of the people who came to see us and our Unknown Soldier lying in state. It was a very busy day full of fascinating conversations. Here are some pictures, including the two brand new screenprints we showed there.

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Crown Poster (widows and orphans)
Screenprint and Foil Debossing

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Union
Screenprint

We received a warm welcome from the people of Dundee and the world-class Dundee Contemporary Arts gallery. The spiritual home of the Chip Shop (or ‘chipper’ as it is known locally), the people of Dundee were committed to local produce for their menu. Peely Wally, Glaikit, Bampot.. it seems there are more Scots words for idiot than the Eskimos have for snow. I’m glad they suffered us gladly! What an honour it was to be part of the opening of Sister Mary Corita Kent’s exhibition at DCA! A hero and inspiration to us as screenprinters, this show really refreshed our love of printmaking. Power Up! And it was a further honour to represent local print produce to the delegates of the international Impact print conference.

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The co-founder of Trykkeriet print studio, Bergen, seeks squeegee advice from the co-director of the HFP

The co-founder of Trykkeriet print studio, Bergen, seeks squeegee advice from the co-director of the HFP

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'sods' - a Heaney Homage

‘sods’ – a Heaney Homage

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We are honoured to have been invited to be a showcase press at Free Verse 2013, Charles Boyle and Chrissy Williams’ benchmark poetry book fair. If you can tear yourself away from the 50+ amazing presses on the main floor of the hall, you will find us occupying the stage area with our books, prints and drawings. In fact, so we don’t underwhelm you, I recommend you employ the shopping centre strategy of starting with us and working back to the door.

Free Verse: The Poetry Book Fair

Saturday 7th September 2013
10am-5pm
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London
WC1R 4RL

FREE

(and 5pm till late at the Square Pig & Pen pub nearby)

View Free Verse Blog

 

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We’re very proud to announce that we’ll be taking our Chip Shop to Dundee Contemporary Arts this summer as part of the international  Impact 8 conference. And proud for so many reasons! This is in conjunction with a DCA exhibition of art by Sister Corita (the screenprinting nun) called ‘There Should Be New Rules Next Week’, which focuses on her as an educator and protestor. For screenprinters like us it’s like being asked to play support for Nirvana. And DCA is a wonderful public institution, one of the best public galleries in the land with superb education and workshop programmes. And Impact 8 is something like a print Olympics. We can’t wait.

Dundee Contemporary Arts: ‘There Should Be New Rules Next Week.’

Impact 8 Conference

Impact 8 on facebook

If you want to visit, check with DCAs website or by phone to see which events are open to the public and which are open to Impact 8 delegates only. At the moment, I think Saturday 31st Aug is open to public, but the evening events on 29th and 30th may not be.

Chip Shop @ DCA:
Thurs 29th (eve)
Fri 30th (eve)
Sat 31st (tbc)

Dundee Contemporary Arts
152 Nethergate
Dundee
DD1 4DY

 

 

 

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What If just before Christmas you were standing in a depressingly long queue in the post office, irritated and frustrated by the waiting because you have so much else to be getting on with? Initially, to relieve the boredom a bit, you look around at the others stuck in the queue with you, the masses snaking out ahead and those even more unfortunate than yourself who have just joined at the back. The majority are using their mobile phones to send, check and delete text messages, play games or speak to someone… anyone! I am unable to be so constructive with my time, I didn’t even bring a book with me, so after loosening off several outer layers of clothing, essential for the winter temperatures outside I mentally prepare myself for an excruciatingly long wait.

In an attempt to free myself from the mobile-phone nit-nattering all around, I foist my attentions upon the meagre efforts at product display that both sparsely edge and govern the route of the queue; a flip-chart-pad flung over an easel with an offer for post office account holders untidily scrawled in black marker pen, postcards of puppies, kittens, frogs, giraffes, ladybirds, babies and love hearts, books for children, travellers, eaters and coffee tables, gift wrapped mail packages, wrapping paper, scissors, brown parcel tape, various other stationary on offer and diagonally down from where I have reached in the slow shuffle of the queue, cloak room tickets.

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The tickets are simple black numbers on a light grey background they jump out from the stand where they hang, reminding me of my mum’s Friday night Gala bingo cards from decades before. I am now almost free from the mobile muttering having finally found something to focus on and it doesn’t take long before I am thinking what perfect ready-made templates the tickets would be for a screen print. Easy, just oil up the paper to make them transparent then expose them directly onto a screen. But then why cloakroom tickets? I can’t just make yet another print for the sake of it, just because it would be easy and probably look good. Well actually I could but what would be the point, it would just be more large sheets of paper to cart around while trying not to get them folded, creased or torn. No just file the idea under something to remember should the opportunity arise to do it sometime in the future.

Gradually the room and the queue soak back into my reality, the young guy behind me is arranging a work meeting over his phone, ahead a once quiet baby has had enough and is now bawling from the pram while the mother tries to distract it and some poor old bloke near the back throws in the towel, he waddles slowly towards the door with his un-mailed package under his arm and exits back into the cold. The rest of us inch slowly forward, I’ve now reached a new stand of post office goods just around the other side of a stone pillar, calendars. I quickly scan and dismiss the eco, green forest, Enya, spa, spray, mist, pan-pipe, water trickling over pebbles vibe of 80% of them and focus on the very plain thick little book of days. Like the cloakroom tickets there is a big solid black number in the middle of the page that is torn off each day to reveal the next.

In 1971 the children’s TV programme Blue Peter buried a time capsule in the BBC gardens that was to remain there until the new millennium. I was 8 at the time and I remember being in hysterics with my sisters after working out how old we would all be when they dug the waterlogged thing up again in 2000AD. Well that milestone came and went and only my father who had died 5 years before didn’t make the date. 12 or is it 13 years into the new millennium, my mother has just gone and I am still in line, edging slowly away from the year that Philip Larkin positioned, between the end of the Chatterly ban And the Beatles’ first LP. Now suddenly, while stuck in the drip-flow of this monumentally dull queue I am struck with the thought that all the calendars before me possess the future co-ordinates, the numbers, the date when I will have officially survived a half century on the planet. I promise myself there and then, that even if I don’t survive this queue I will make a print of 2013 before that year is over.

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What if a search then began for the perfect readymade template needed to make a print of the year 2013? The simple block calendar I spotted in the post office queue is cellophane wrapped and when I get it home I find it is useless for printing because each dated leaf sheet has text on the reverse side, once oiled and exposed onto a screen this will obscure the simplicity of a single bold number. In the rush up to Christmas my position in the post office queue progresses while in my head I tour the bookshops and department stores to check through their massive displays of calendars as well. I have no need for pictures, so all the wildlife, windmills, Edward Hopper, Justine Bieber and impressionist painter, calendars can be ignored. But I do need the paper to be cheap and thin to allow the oil to make it light transparent, so all the thick glossy donkeys, lighthouses, Marc Chagall, Justine Bieber and French country kitchen, calendars can also be ignored. So what if after searching for a couple of weeks I finally identify the Kalender des nutlosen Wissens ,the calendar of useless knowledge made by a company called, Heye as the best one for the job.

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It’s a calendar pad which requires a page to be torn off every day. The numbers are big and bold and as a variant each weekend and holiday page is inverted so the numbers are then white on a dark background. Most importantly, the back of each page is blank so nothing can bleed through when they are oiled.

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Along the bottom of each day-page runs the useless piece of knowledge promised by the calendars title; Elephants can’t jump in the air or normally people in Siberia buy their milk as a frozen block. They needlessly complicate the print so I guillotine them off when the pad is still whole.

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Rounding the second column on my right I enter the long final straight of the queue, there’s perhaps only 20 to 30 people still to be served in front now. I get back to the print, I consider the organisation required for printing 365 individual templates, it will be complicated and a little bit tedious. As with any work, preparation is key, that and structure and the 3 process colours, yellow, magenta and cyan will help shape that. Over the past 5 years I have used the process colours extensively in printing I like the notion of each layer forming the composition and mixing the colour at the same time.

 

This structure will therefore split the 12 months of 2013 into colours; the 6 months from July to December will be yellow, January to the end of May, magenta and then the month of the birthday will be cyan. The only date that will be registered and therefore printed evenly in each colour will be the birth date, like its position in the calendar it will be placed near the centre of the print.
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The paper will have to be big to accommodate all the dates but the maximum size I can print a single layer on one screen without too any complications is a metre square. When trying to lay out the 6 months to be printed in yellow I find that the templates are too big, the amount they overlap each other obliterates most of the printed surface of the numbers. I change tack, with another 2 guillotine chops that make the templates smaller and squared. I also change my mind about arranging the templates into a grid a large circle proves more successful in accommodating the 6 months.

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Once I have the print of the first yellow layer I can arrange the next 5 months on a large sheet of acetate directly over it. To avoid repeating the same construction of templates for the magenta layer, I can off-set the templates by turning them 90 degrees this time. And because there aren’t as many in this layer I can spread them out a little more.

 

The last Layer of cyan is numerically easier than the previous two, so much so that I will get a bit stuck as to how to arrange the single month’s templates. I think about using chance and just letting the things drop onto the print to form the final screen, I consider making a spiral and even asking a friend’s 9 year old daughter to do it in whatever way she would like. In the end while discussing it with Katharine Eastman at our dinner table, she suggests putting a square peg in a round hole and making the last screen square. This suggestion frees me up, for the first time I tamper a little with the readymade templates and invert the whole month of June on the photocopier.

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So there it is, everything in place to print the year 2013. It will of course take the help of my good friend Michael Schoenke but I will have to get out of this post office queue before I can speak to him about it.

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Clotted Sunedited by Chris McCabe

Clotted Sun
edited by Chris McCabe

Chris McCabe, who is a Poet, a friend of the family, and Head Librarian at the Poetry Library (Royal Festival Hall), asked us to help him make a book that would represent his site-specific commission for West Norwood Cemetery; part of the Curious art trail. Chris had found twelve poets interred at the cemetery, and chosen a two-word phrase from one of their poems to be engraved on a stone and left at their plot.

Clotted Sunedited by Chris McCabe

Clotted Sun
edited by Chris McCabe

decoration based on West Norwood Cemetery gateway

decoration based on West Norwood Cemetery gateway

white foil blocking on title flap

white foil blocking on title flap

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debossed stones printed with HP Indigo presses

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We discussed several ideas for representing this in print and binding, and Chris had the idea of a set of cards, documenting the stones and the poet’s location. We made an edition of 50 small portfolios, employing the fore-edge flap as a title page to keep the flow of opening the portfolio as close to a book as possible.

printed stone before debossing

printed stone before debossing

after the deboss

after the deboss

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Instead of photographing engraved stones, we documented them without engraving and used blind debossing to impress the words physically upon the reproduced stones.

As well as doing the foiling, debossing and binding of the portfolios, we drew the title decoration, based upon the imposing Victorian stone gateway at the Cemetery.

Chris is selling these for £40. Contact him here. Remember; there are only 50 of these available!

We launched our latest book ‘The Erroneous Disposition of the People’ last night with a live music and art performance at Wilderthorn Presents… a monthly music and art night held at a community cafe in Brick Lane.

kahalia-041kahalia-036kahalia-008This wonderful book of poetry and prose is by James Wilkes, Eddie Farrell, Julie Rafalski, David Barnes and David Henningham.

The exhibition continues for the rest of this month (and a bit) at Kahalia here. We’re really pleased to contribute to the work this community cafe is doing.

You will see a drawing of St George as he might appear on a night out in Romford. A screenprint of John the Baptist wearing wellies, a glow in the dark camel head, and carrying a spare skull in his carrier bag.  Also a whole menagerie of watercolours with their own melodies – a looping score we performed last night. Scrolls with extracts from the book are everywhere…

Cafe Kahalia
135 Brick Lane
E1 6SB
London

Open every day
Mon – Fri 08:30 – 19:00
Sat – 09:00 – 19:00
Sun – 09:00 – 17:00

Read about the book here

Buy the book here

See the whole Erroneous Disposition of the People project here

We placed a listing in Aesthetica Magazine announcing our project An Unknown Soldier. If you saw us there – welcome to our website!

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You can find everything about the whole project here.

We currently have two new superb screenprints underway, which are as yet unlisted, this time also using our foil debossing press on some of the details.

We have a gig to announce, happening in just two weeks time!

Henningham Family Press have teamed up again with the golden voiced Jon Bilbrough (Wilderthorn), to compose a collaborative piece of art and music. We will be playing from an oversized book; a bestiary depicting twelve animals in pigment and melody. For inspiration we plucked twelve animal related titles from Sir Thomas Browne’s 1646 book ‘Pseudodoxia Epidemica’, chapters such as “That the Ostridge digesteth Iron.” and “That a Badger hath the Legs of one side shorter than of the other.”

Jon Bilbrough playing with us at STK during LWF 2010

At Kahalia Cafe twelve indie players will perform this instrumental animal arrangement that loops like the DNA sheet music of our biosphere. This piece accompanies an exhibition of scrolls, screenprints and drawings that celebrate the publishing of the paperback and limited edition versions of our book “The Erroneous Disposition of the People” (James Wilkes, Julie Rafalski, Eddie Farrell, David Henningham & David Barnes). These five authors plunder Browne’s fascinating catalogue of extinct opinions. They lampoon our tendency to exchange fact for factoid; our insatiable appetite for facts that fuels an entire entertainment industry.

Date: Thursday 6th June 2013
Doors: 7.30
Entry: £3
Venue: Kahalia, 135 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
Exhibition continues for one month at Kahalia and is free.

We do hope you can join us for this evening of music/art/lampooning/fun!

Just to whet your appetites, here’s a YouTube clip from our last collaboration with Jon Bilbrough…