Ditchling Museum launches "slightly bonkers" plan to make massive prints with vintage steamroller

By Richard Moss | 22 January 2015

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft wants to take a steam roller on the road to create a "theatre of printing"

a photo of two people peeling a large print from a template on the floor outside
The first print of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft's Big Steam Print
How do you celebrate 100 years since Edward Johnston designed the London Underground typeface in the Sussex village of Ditchling?

At Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft they are thinking big, with a year of celebrations and activities called The Village of Type and, with the help of a huge vintage steamroller from nearby Amberley Museum, they have launched a slightly bonkers scheme to take printing to the masses by making huge outdoor linocut, woodcut and letterpress prints at several UK locations.

Artists Anthony Burrill, Angie Lewin and Rob Ryan are already on board for the ambitious Big Steam Print project, which will be taking large-scale printmaking to Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre, the West Acton depot of London Transport Museum, the 50th anniversary edition of Brighton Festival, and Ditchling Village Fair.

Ditchling village played key role in the development of printing and calligraphy - thanks to the work of Eric Gill and his brethren in the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic.

Edward Johnston (1872 – 1944), often referred to as the “father of modern calligraphy”, arrived their in 1912 and he soon launched the Johnston sans serif typeface, which has become one of the most enduring examples of corporate branding in the world.

a photo of a steam traction engine
The Steam Engine will travel across the south making giant prints
Students from local schools, colleges and universities will be getting in on the project to commemorate Johnston’s pioneering work, with the featured artists producing their biggest ever works out in the open alongside members of the public, community groups, kids and families. 

The roving printing project will culminate in an exhibition of the mammoth prints at Phoenix Brighton Gallery during the summer (August 6 - 21 2016)  

To make it all happen Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has launched a crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise £12,500 through the Art Fund’s Art Happens website, which is the only crowdfunding platform for the museum sector.

Admitting the Big Steam Print is an unusual idea, Ditchling Museum Director Nathaniel Hepburn said “it is the sort of silly idea that could really work, and will capture the imaginations of so many people who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in printing.

“The drama of revealing a print from the press is always exciting, but on this scale, outdoors, surrounded by the smell and noise and smell of a steam roller… it’s going to be irresistible.”

With the museum an Art Fund Museum of the Year finalist in 2014, Art Fund Director Stephen Deucher said he had “no doubt” Ditchling's Art Happens Campaign will be “hugely successful.” 

To help Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft take a steamroller to the printing process visit the Art Fund’s Art Happens website. Follow Ditchling Museum on Twitter use the hashtags #bigsteamprint, #arthappens. 

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

More on Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

Back to the loom: Weaver Jenny KilBride on Ditchling and the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft: A new jewel in the Sussex Downs

Rediscovered genius: David Jones at Pallant House and Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

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All the (crazy) brain child of one Ms Pea Crabtree, she of the marvellous Lucky Budgie Studios - http://luckybudgie.com/blogs/lucky-budgie-news
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