The Posters of Golden Cabinet
10 July - 28 September 19
This collection of 30 posters was created from 2013-2018 for Golden Cabinet - the acclaimed experimental music night that took place at the Kirkgate Community Centre in the small market town of Shipley, West Yorkshire.
Golden Cabinet’s ‘sonic attack’ attracted a hardcore of followers over its 5 years as well as the attention of the mainstream media and international artists working at the bleeding edge of music and visual art.
The posters were created by Nick Loaring (The Print Project) who took his inspiration from the type of music on offer which he described as 'a brain-crushingly loud / brutal / in your face experience which was often repetitive, complex and intended to re-wire your internal circuits. '
All the posters were letterpress printed by hand one at a time using a variety of materials (washers / screws / vintage wood-type / hand-cut lino / laser-cut & engraved hardboard / MDF) in small editions of 30 or fewer. The type was always set by hand, firstly using what was available and then moving into hot-metal in 2014.
They are organised chronologically with the sizes and formats arrived at by exploiting the limits of two flat bed proofing presses, one from 1969 and the other from 1972.
To view and purchase a selection of Nick Loaring's prints, some of which are part of the exhibition, visit his shop page here.
We managed to catch a moment with Nick Loaring during a recent whistle-stop visit to Newcastle in order to ask him a few questions about his work.
Q. Your vibrant colours and bold shapes in some way seem at odds with the traditions of letterpress, how did you arrive at this apparent 'mismatch' between process and aesthetic?
NL. I found a half used tin of fluorescent red ink in a dusty box of inks I’d picked up somewhere which was duly slapped onto some type and I’ve been hooked ever since… Previously I was taken with letterpress being either finely printed metal type or large expressive wood type, but once I started doing the posters for Golden Cabinet I started to become more interested in pattern, repetition and geometry, which lead me to (accidentally) develop a way of working that involves saws, computers, laser cutters, bits of junk, lino cutting and the aforementioned vibrant colours.
Q. Where did you learn your letterpress skills, did someone teach you or did you have to teach yourself?
NL. In a previous life I worked commercial offset litho, some letterpress type appeared around 1996, a proofing press in 2005 and in 2009 I was taken under the wing of Peter Good who showed me how to set type and print it on an Arab Platen Press. Richard Lawrence then gave me a crash course on the Heidelberg, and I've been making a mess of it ever since.
Q. So much of the paraphernalia of traditional print has been lost - where did /do you get your equipment from?
NL. It’s come from all over the place - some of it from mad trips to places you'd never heard of where you are usually presented with 50 years of accumulated, grease, grime, fluff and dust to tip offs from so called friends, being in the right place at the right (or wrong) time, being stupid and dumb enough to say yes when I should say no, and to battling it out in a bidding war on eBay at 3am in the morning (thankfully those days are over). After quite a while I’ve ended up with pretty much everything I need (but there’s always space for a bit more if the opportunity arises…).
Q. Your prints are really playful, how much do you work out before printing and how much is done by playing about with combinations of block, colours and overprinting at the press?
NL. A lot of it is worked out in advance, letterpress is so time consuming that it's not possible to test out all the possibilities before you get it on press. The limitations of what’s possible help define the outcomes. There’s risk involved but it’s based on what’s gone before. There are definite things you cannot do, so it’s all about how far you can go before you get to the point where it all falls apart. Jobs often change on press based on what’s happening at the time, so you have to be flexible and open to the unexpected. Play is a major part - arriving at that composition that makes your heart race can sometimes take hours….days or weeks….and I’m drawn to strong graphical work that’s often bright, brash and garish…
Q. There seems to be a revival in letterpress printing, where do you think this come from and what do you see happening next with this?
NL. What was once hidden behind closed doors is now visible anywhere thanks to the internet. So on one hand whilst letterpress has invariably benefited from renewed interest due to the internet, the cruel irony of the internet, email and digital printing is that it has taken away some of the need for actual ‘proper’printing. Yet letterpress, this arcane form of printing invented 500 years ago (and hardly changed since then), still seems to strike a chord with a wide range of people, whether they came into contact with it at school, or trained as a compositor, were a printer in the 1970s or a student of graphic design in the 2000s. This renewed interest has lead to new approaches to old problems which in turn has hopefully made people question what letterpress is supposed to be and what it can be. But as life seems to be more online than it used to be, people are looking for time away from the screen and the constant pressures of modern life. Letterpress is a good rabbit hole to disappear down for a few hours, days…weeks….or years…..
Q. Could you please tell us more about the connections with music?
NL. I’ve been into music ever since I was a teenager. Then I got into skateboarding and started reading Thrasher, which meant not only did I get to see pictures of lunatics riding planks of wood in far off lands I’d never heard of but I was also exposed to a very loud and very fast type of music played by an international network of maniacs in basements & cellars who railed against the injustices of the world in their lyrics and artwork. A lot of those ideas are still with me today and I still batter the hell out of myself on a skateboard daily (never saw myself as a runner or going to the gym - urgghh). Coming into contact with those bands at an early age fuelled a desire to always be on the lookout for new music, which eventually lead to putting on gigs, being in a band and putting out records. Then in 2013 Golden Cabinet came into being and made my life hell.
Q. What is your connection with Newcastle, bands and music venues? Were you involved in print in the city too or did that come later?
NL. My first band I was in was from Newcastle. My first ever gig (and tour) began at The Broken Doll. The label we were on was originally from Newcastle and we used to practice at First Avenue in Heaton. My last band was originally from the city, but over time the members changed so we practiced in Bradford as we all lived in the area, but there was still a very strong connection to Newcastle as our guitarist and drummer were from there (and big Newcastle United fans, they dragged us along to see them play in Greece whilst we were on tour, it was insane) and the last time I played the city was at the Cumberland Arms which is just round the corner from the Cluny and of course….Northern Print so it’s pretty wild to back in the city after such a long time doing something completely different but not a million miles away from where it all started.
Special Event: Exclusive Release From the Golden Cabinet
Thursday 29 August 6-9pm
Owing to the overwhelming popularity of the exhibition we are delighted to announce that a number of previously unavailable original letterpress posters from Nick Loaring will be available to purchase at a special event.
Join us for refreshments, view the exhibition, try your hand at printing on our Adana press and have an exclusive chance to purchase Nick Loaring's original artwork before we make the prints available on our website the next day at noon.
We anticipate that demand for this work will be high and posters will be available on a first-come-first-served basis.
RSVP appreciated but not mandatory. firstname.lastname@example.org