Under the Big Sky

Some year ago I was approached to submit concepts for a public art installation in the regional University town of Armidale. Persistence was required as the process from concept to installation was somewhat fraught.

However, after many meetings, changes of locations and amidst a back drop of council amalgamations (& de-amalgamations) it has finally found a place in front of the minimalist shed styled annex of the $10.5 million upgrade to the Armidale Airport.

Armidale is half way between Sydney and Brisbane on the New England Tableland. It has a very distinctive landscape.

Under the Big Sky was finally installed in front of the new Armidale Airport annex late 2017.

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What is a Wimbel’s Wayzgoose?

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What is a Wayzgoose you might ask. During the early days of letterpress printing it was traditional for master printers to reward their workers with a picnic known as a Wayzgoose to celebrate the end of summer and a return to working by candlelight.

So then what has a goose got to do with the printing industry. It seems there a few possible answers. I personally like explanation that it was the bird eaten at harvest time. Wikipedia suggests …. It may be a misspelling for "waysgoose", from wase, Middle English for "sheaf", thus meaning "sheaf" or "harvest goose", a bird eaten at harvest-time.

There was the odd goat but no geese in sight at the 2017 NERAM Wimble’s Wayzgoose. It is not clear why the term survived for so long in printing folklore. Certainly the goose has long ago parted company with the printers' Wayzgoose.

There were more goats in attendence than Geese and the 2017 NERAM Wimble’s Wayzgoose.

There were more goats in attendence than Geese and the 2017 NERAM Wimble’s Wayzgoose.

Another point of interest is that it was traditionally held on the 24 August on traditionally what is St Bartholomew’s day. Some bookbinders believe that a Wayzgoose was held on St Bartholomew's Day because he was the patron saint of leather workers. It was no coincidence that on August 24, 1456 the printing of the Gutenberg Bible was completed, perhaps triggering the very first Wayzgoose party at Fust–Schöffer shop in Mainz.

Interesting stuff but what does it mean today. The resurgence of interest in letterpress printing has seen the return of the Wayzgoose. In the USA they now often include the printing of a huge block with the aid of a steamroller. It seems the printer’s picnic has now arrived in Australia, complete with the printing of a large block. In our Wimbel’s Wayzgoose, the steamroller was downgraded to a lawn tennis roller.

The Museum of Printing (in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia) held its first Wimble's Wayzgoose on 28-30 April 2017. It is named after the FT Wimble & Co. Collection which is housed at the museum. The collection was acquired in 1998 and consists of 14 presses, a linotype machine, many cases of metal and wood type and assorted printing memorabilia. There is even a room full of old type writers.

Find out what Clint had to say and all you need to know about Wimbel’s Wayzgoose 2017. Check out the Video produced by Jonathon Larsen below!

Find out what Clint had to say and all you need to know about Wimbel’s Wayzgoose 2017. Check out the Video produced by Jonathon Larsen below!

The long weekend began on Friday afternoon with talks about letterpress, printmaking, design and typography. There was an unveiling of the new Black Gully etching press in the Museum of Printing. Bubbles and biscuits were laid on to celebrate this new acquisition, which had taken many years of talk and fundraising to aquire. On Saturday things got creative with screen printing, artist book making, type-setting and wood engraving workshops. The fun went up a notch on Sunday with live music, paella's, drink stalls, artist talks and the community getting their collective hands dirty with the large print. The prints subject matter was inspired by the life and times of local historical icon, Captain Thunderbolt.

Captain Thunderbolt rides again

Captain Thunderbolt rides again

It proved difficult to get a clear image with out using the obligatory heavy steamroller. The lawn tennis roller had to be replaced by a more hands on approach. There was an attempt to get a result by dancing on the back of the paper. Rubbing the back of the paper with old spoons proved to render the best result. It is an old but reliable relief printmaking technique. 

Lets hope the 2017 Wimble’s Wayzgoose is the first of many future annual events to come.

See you all in 2018!

Check out what it was all about on the video below.

I wish I had told you!

Private Posts was a community art project which took some cues from the global ‘mail art’ movement. This movement started back in the 1950s and 60s and was about openness and inclusion. Any person with access to a mailbox can be involved with this project. Its handmade messiness questions the promise of our current state of binary digital connectedness.

The reflective nature of handwritten correspondence is arguably more meaningful. The physical act of posting reminds us of the joys of slow mail. Being part of the community narrative and utilizing creativity to bring us in to the present moment creates a sense of well being and social connection.

Individuals created the artworks and text on postcard templates, which became the building blocks of the project. The project went through multiple stages as it developed a community narrative, which culminated in performances and an art installation. Individuals that participated in the shared process had a sense of being part of something larger. Through its development and in its final outcome, the artwork builds connection, personal reflection and healing. A moment of catharsis was experienced when posting the card and followed by a positive feeling of contributing to the shared community story. A sense we are more the same than different. The recollections or regrets were composed in private and were sent anonymously.

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We played a part in UNE's annual ‘Well Fair Day’ with over 1000 smiling eager participants. It is an annual event aimed at improving student’s mental health and wellbeing. The art cart also popped up at a local high schools ‘Grounded Day’ The day was been inspired by Mental Health Month and was organised in collaboration with the community, for all Armidale High students.

‘The New England Writers’ Centre led writing workshops to kick start the community story. Themes emerged from the 400 cards that reflect many shared experiences. This happened firstly through the writing workshops led by John Heffernan and Fiona McDonald.

The Armidale community then transformed its everyday stories into theatre. A series of theatrical ‘portrait’ pieces were created, performed and recorded. The workshops evolved from improvisation into a devised piece that was presented to camera in front of a green screen. Participants gained valuable experience of working in front of a camera. The fact that the production was going to be publically screened gave it added impetus. The postcards that inspired each piece were added to the background during postproduction. A further performance in the exhibition space brought an immediacy to the material that only live actors can achieve. They were interpreting heartfelt lines written by individuals from the Armidale community.

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The postcard text and images were transformed into a short animated projection. The identified themes became part of the narrative structure. Viewing the original postcards and then seeing those same images & themes morphed into the film timeline gave an insight into how we are more the same than different. The collaboration demonstrated the power of art created with community and by the community as shared personal thoughts create connections to tell the one story.

The postcards, words, images, sounds and video recordings of the theatre performance captured during the project all become part of an art installation at the New England Regional Art Museum. Over 2000 people viewed the installation.

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