Graphic Explorations In Print

Graphic Explorations in Print at the National Print Museum

Pic: NewsFour’s Ross Waldron

Graphic Explorations In Print is a showcase of work produced by graphic design students at Distillers Press from 1983 up to the modern day.

The exhibition had its debut last December and is running in the National Print Museum in Beggar’s Bush up until the end of February. Curated by Seán Sills, who was Custodian of the Press during that time period, the exhibition is made up of posters, books and a collection of other print ephemera.

Seán spoke to NewsFour about the history of printing that the Press has been involved in and the nature of the pieces on display for public viewing in the National Print Museum. 500 years after its inception, people in the industry are still printing from metal type. In the Distillers Press they had retained letter press, given its usefulness as a foundation to help students of graphic design understand the fundamentals of typography and printing in its original form. There is a myriad of different works on display in the exhibition. One such piece is reduction lino print of Phil Lynott, which was originally created for the Hot Press Awards in the late 1980s. Seán then led us through a labyrinth of prints which covered a wide range of subjects such as the Restoration Period, a study of the ampersand, cuts of the life of Michael Devitt and authentic coals from the Titanic used to create an etching of the doomed vessel. Everything in the exhibition is hand printed, not mass produced.

“It was suggested to me on the occasion of my retirement that there should be a retrospective exhibition held of the work done at the Press during my custodianship,” Seán says. “The pressure was put on, it happened and I’m really pleased at how its turned out. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of the museum. We have started to get bookings, particularly from third level students of graphic design who want to come in and see the work.”

The Distillers Press was originally known as the Graphic Print Workshop and was intially located at the National College of Art & Design on Kildare Street. In the 1980s the college moved to its new campus on Thomas Street and the facility was expanded. This facility then became known as the Distillers Press in the 1990s due to the college campus location in the old Power’s Whiskey Distillery, where whiskey was refined for nearly 200 years. The Press is unique in being the only operational letterpress print facility used on a daily basis in third level design education in Ireland.

“The exhibition shows how creative young people are,” Seán continues, “and there’s a great bit of social history there as well over the last 30 years.”

The showcase will continue to run until the end of February and possibly into early March. It is a fascinating insight into the last three decades of print history and should not be missed!

By Craig Kinsella