Mr Smith paints the town indian ink blue at William Morris Gallery for Museums at Night

By Mark Sheerin | 16 May 2014
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London artist Kelvyn Smith takes eager volunteers through the printmaking process at a hugely popular and hands on evening in Walthamstow

All hands on deck: Mr Smith and volunteers assemble the text© Culture24
It’s a balmy May evening, perfect for working up a sweat at a printing press. William Morris, whose E17 gallery we are in, would surely have approved of the serious-minded apprentices here. They are laying out a text from his lecture Art and Socialism; it’s another unusual nightlife option.

Father of this temporary printing chapel is Mr Smith. He points out to his apprentices where Morris said work should be “neither/over-wearisome nor over anxious”. Then Smith admits that, given the rapid turnaround of letter blocks and galleys, he is tonight both weary and anxious.

But you get the impression he is enjoying himself, as are his students. Hands fly to the cases of type and back to the work surface. Passing down the corridor you can see the type laid on a stone, locked up, inked and then finally printed with a roller.

Assistants Christian and Freddy are also under pressure, working at speed while fielding questions from well informed members of the public. The first poster comes off the press and it’s a thing of beauty, the indian ink matching the indigo aprons we have been given out to wear.

Along with the technical instruction, we are encouraged to sit through a presentation of some rare Morris folios with Exhibitions and Collections Assistant, Ines. You can see first hand just how Morris harked back to medieval design. The sun sets over Walthamstow and those dark ages come to life.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Hundreds of events take place for Museums at Night between May 15-17 2014. Visit and follow the festival on Twitter@MuseumsAtNight.

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Volunteers share all: Spencer Tunick talks about his daring project for Museums at Night

Museums at Night 2014: Our guide to Newcastle and Gateshead's Late Shows

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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