Scilly Map Project: How…?

diary: Monday 4th february 2019

“We’re currently printing off the Scilly Islands map series. When we’re done there will be fifty copies each of four different maps, each map consisting of three different colour layers.  This means experimenting on, and deciding on eight different background colours (two per map) over which the third black layer for each map is printed last.  This means cutting and registering, mounting, proofing and printing all these layers, then pulling the press 600 times – excluding the proof copies and practice runs, of course.”

Play Video
Play Video

Notes taken during the process of printing:…

I’m writing notes as I handle and hang the prints in the rack to dry as Rosie passes them to me from the printing press. It’s night time.  The workshop is lit by fluorescent light.  The Vandercook press makes a constant rattle clank clank whirring noise from its motor driving the circular rotation of its numerous metal and rubber-coated inking rollers.  Every time the cylinder is wound by hand across the inked block and back to make a new impression, there is a heavy clunk clunk…..thump, clunk. The noise is constant. The smell of the ink and the hot heavy machine oil is thick in the air. We have limited time and it’s the end of a long day, with all that entails.

“Comfortable.  No worries, it seem to work…


Economy of effort..

System developing… rhythm…

…heightened awareness of tiny wrongnesses and rightnesses in the process…

Things stand out sharply from the mass when they are wrong..

…mind wandering…

Empty mind? No. But I’m not thinking of the task itself, which is too easily done. 

What next? A bath, projects, new images come to me, materials we need….

I have a sharpened awareness of other stuff than the stuff me hands are dealing with….

Counting down the number still remaining to do….

Numbers remind me of rowing ergo score, long distances run, mountains climbed….”

Hanging the prints….

“…level every time, parallel, orientated, time after time the same

…so that even writing is difficult…

…listening almost subconsciously I know when the noise of the press or the thickness of the ink is wrong….

The clatter of the Vandercook, the carriage return, whee, clunk, clunk….

…this is time for NOT thinking about the things I’m making….

…all the thought was beforehand…in choosing the papers…..

…conceiving the idea, thinking how we’re fund it, sell it, find time to do it….

…now we’re performing, its all too late…

…there is an ease of mind in the automatic phase as opposed to the deliberative thought that sandwiches the process of actually making….

…metronomic timing… writing, walking to the press, taking the fresh new wet map, hanging it, writing, walking to the press…..

Not just an economy of movement, but also a standardising regularity of movement as I become machine-like from the repetition….”

The videos and text are just intending to give you an idea of the process of making these particular images.  It differs greatly from most of our work, which by contrast rarely involves this craft-like volume.  Even so. We end up only with 50 copies of each map, having worked on the project since November 2018 until February 2019.


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