We’re clearly big on all things printed here at Gallery. Establishing a print magazine title in a contracting market was a conscious decision. The tactility of a printed page, the feel of ink on paper and the smell of paper stock is still hugely satisfying and I genuinely fawn over print, whether new magazines or the complexity of a screen print at exhibitions. Despite the development of our titles into digital, I still have a personal love for print. As local commercial printers are shutting down and the local paper shrinks in readership by the month, we still feel physical media and printed art has a strong place and it’s great to see people connected and inspired by traditional methods.
Last month I went on a screen-printing course at Print Club London; a thoroughly enjoyable two days in hipsterland, Dulwich that resulted in a two colour (starting simple) screen print of an old Gallery cover now adorning our office wall. As I was doing the course, I noticed ‘Luddite Press’ follow us on Instagram. It turns out that there are two guys right in here in Jersey, who are actually offering such a course and have installed a press (soon to be presses) at Greve de Lecq, where you too can get the type of satisfaction I got from being covered in ink. We caught up with Tim Le Breuilly, one half of the team, to learn more.
Hello Luddite Press, tell us – what got this started?
The rumble of industry, illuminated ‘printing in the infernal method’ and the age of enlightenment. The smell of greased metal on metal, the feint rustle of felt through a mechanical roller. The anticipation of revealing mystical truth’s as you peel back the moist Moulin Du Gue, releasing it from the metal plate. Hopes dashed, you realise you didn’t add enough extender to the ink and your paper tears. The agony and the alchemy. Also, probably, early exposure to potato printing.
Tell us a bit about your background(s)?
We met at an Arthouse event a couple of years ago, Tom (Parker) had just moved to the island with his local girlfriend and I was returning, having lived in the UK since leaving for art College in the late 90’s. I moved to Edinburgh after graduating from the Slade, because the ‘Athens of the North’ appealed with its classical architecture and cheaper studio rent. Pulling my first etching at Edinburgh Printmakers in 2004, I’d later return to the medium whilst gaining my masters in Architectural Conservation at ECA. Tom studied in London, earning him a degree in Fine Art – in which his main specialism was printmaking. He was awarded the Skingle Prize for Best Printmaking Practice by the CASS School of Art. Three years after Tom graduated saw us both sharing a studio and a loaned press from local artist Nick Romeril before going on to acquire the equipment needed to establish Luddite Press. There was some resistance towards me moving into the studio initially, as at the time I was looking at etching with Electrolysis and Tom was worried about the mess if I electrocuted myself.
In a digital-forward world, what made you want to embrace the old?
I guess there’s nostalgia there but also a sense of potential loss. I think that how we approach time is affected by the prevalence of digital media, there’s a tendency towards instant gratification. In recent years we’ve seen an increase in ‘mindfulness’; we’re expected to take responsibility for our own psychology as more and more demands are placed on us. Certain activities place you firmly ‘in the moment’ and printmaking’s propensity for slow images make it the antithesis of the culture of ‘click bait’.
What can people expect when they visit for a course?
It depends what they’re looking for really. A non judgemental space with the means to explore a breadth of printmaking practices from photo etching to lino cut to collagraph or mono printing. Through courses at Highlands, our workshops at the Museum and recent one to one tuition we’ve already managed to engage with people with a range of abilities and ideas and helped them to realise their potential with full ownership of their own results. A workshop is also constructive social time with a cup of tea or maybe a pint afterwards.
What’s your favourite process or part of what you do?
Process is inseparable from printmaking and this is important to both of us in slightly different ways. I’m a bit of a sponge for new processes and delight in pushing the envelope, with twists on established techniques. Using figuration, often built heritage, as my start point I’ll delight in whatever process takes over and almost undermine myself to ensure this takes place. Tom owns process, his work is more abstract and self-referential, he’s more interested in the mundane minutiae that one might stumble upon through years of printmaking practice.
Any funny stories of setting up so far?
I have an old banger covered in interesting stickers curated by the previous owner (owners), turning up at the museum with a half ton printing press on a trailer, which was apparently fine, but trying to return the trailer to its owner was the straw that broke the camels back. I had to be rescued from the old JEP buildings car park whilst the car spewed steam from the radiator.
Since the incident we have decided to ditch the vehicles and make plans for an etching press bicycle. Similar to the ice cream bike you can find on a sunny day in St Aubin’s harbour, only with a press on the front instead of a freezer. This way we can truly bring the medium of print to the people as well as keeping our atmosphere and consciences clean.
How can people get involved?
People can get involved in several ways and we’re always happy to hear from anyone with an interest. If people follow us on facebook and instagram @ludditepressci they can keep on top of the latest developments. We’ll be running courses and workshops for beginners as well as those with some experience. Experienced printmakers can become members to access the facilities on their own terms or we can provide one-to-one technician/tuition work to help you achieve specific projects.