Our featured Artist Member for February 2024 is printmaker Karen Edwards. Karen’s letterpress items are printed using vintage printing blocks together with wooden and metal type on her lovely old printing press called an Adana 8 x 5, or ‘Ada’. She also uses carved rubber stamps or creates printing blocks from found materials.
Karen has led several artist residencies as part of our outreach programme with local healthcare partners. She is currently undertaking a residency with the Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) Unit at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust.
Growing up in the Seventies I loved the illustrations, stories and information from my picture books and especially a series of Encyclopedias, which I still have and often return to for inspiration or research. The principle of Notan: the interaction between positive and negative space; The patterns and repetitions of European Folk art – or just gazing out of the window and overheard conversations!
My workspace is within Bridewell Studios and Gallery, Liverpool. A former police station that has been home to hundreds of artists and makers since 1976. I share my studio with Ada, Babs, Clive, Brian and Tom my vintage and antique printing presses.
I could not pick one particular piece but one of the first Letterpress prints I created was one containing Liverpool colloquialisms. I wanted to celebrate my ‘Scousness’ in response to the lazy stereotypes I and my fellow Liverpudlians are often subjected to. It was a personal piece but has inspired a body of work that is popular with many people who are proud of the place they call home.
Too many individuals! – but I love the way the resurgence in Letterpress sees many artists using new ways of using wood and metal type such as creating images like Starshaped Press in Chicago and hand inking letterforms to create unique pieces like Alan Kitching.
The impressions produced from printing with worn wooden type shows the tactile nature of the blocks, and reminds us of their previous life in the printing industry. Just holding the letters themselves can influence and inspire a new project.