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Exhibitions

The Wild Apple Press

Letterpress work by Jim Wilder

The Wild Apple Press is an American private press, printing mostly stories and imprints about Ireland and by Irish writers. The Press grew out the ‘book arts’ program at the University of Alabama in the mid-1970s, initially printing broadsides and ephemera. All type is handset and printed letterpress by Irish-American printer Jim Wilder in his print shop in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Works from the Press have been included in collections at: Royal Irish Academy Library; National Library of Ireland; Russell Library, Maynooth University; Early Printed Books, Trinity College Dublin; Burns Library, Boston College; Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; Catholic University of America; and Special Collections, University of Delaware.

Exhibition runs from 19 October until 26 November 2017.

Admission free of charge.

Green Sleeves: The Irish printed Record Cover

Green Sleeves, The Irish Printed Record Cover 1955-2017

This exhibition examines the Irish-printed album cover. Included album covers were all designed and printed in Ireland. The work was completed for Irish groups, who worked at home or abroad, as well as albums from abroad referencing Ireland or Irishness. The collection dates from the late 1950s to the present day, and covers a wide range of musical and non-musical genres. Arising from the increase in popularity of the vinyl record, the Irish print industry saw an increase in companies solely devoted to album covers in the 1960s. This business flourished for two decades before declining along with the vinyl record in the 1980s. Yet even with the decline in production and sales, the vinyl record and the album cover have both persisted, and have seen a revival of late. Despite selling in much smaller numbers than its heyday, the format has proven remarkably resilient and album covers continue to be designed in Ireland.

The album cover developed first as a means of protecting and promoting the various record formats, whether 7 inch single, EP or LP record. As the nature of albums changed so too did the album covers. For example, the compilation album, an album of songs not intended to be a single work, arrived in the 1950s. The concept album, a collection of albums expressing a theme or idea, appeared afterwards in the late 1960s. Records inside album covers were usually held within sleeves – originally these were generic paper or plastic covers used to avoid scratches. By the 1970s however they evolved to specially designed printed sleeves, which would contain additional information and song lyrics. Each iteration brought with it different requirements as well as cover sizes. As time progressed the demands of musicians and record labels saw considerable experimentation in the form of the cover itself. For example, gatefold was employed – an oversized cover folded to the record’s standard size, along with other innovations. This gave more area to experiment with artwork and text. The cover became a piece of art and design in its own right.

By the 1960s there were over 150 printers in Dublin alone, supported by a workforce of thousands. Apart from these, a smaller number of companies were involved in printing record sleeves, both of Irish and international musicians. Most of these companies were based in Dublin or on the Irish eastern seaboard. The market for record sleeves started to grow. The packaging company Dakota Ltd. purchased the smaller Earlsfort Press in the 1960s to concentrate mainly on producing record sleeves for the Irish music industry. The 1980s however brought about change. In the printing industry, multinational computing corporations based in Ireland contracted local companies to produce their computer manuals. So great was the demand that large parts of the printing industry were occupied with the supply of manuals. This lead to a reduced capacity in Ireland for record sleeves printing, at a time when the record format itself was under threat from another direction. By the mid 1980s sales of tape cassettes rivaled those of vinyl records. Then a newer format, the CD (compact disc), arrived towards the end of the 1980s, marking another shift. The demand for vinyl records and album covers declined swiftly. Since then almost all album covers for Irish groups have been printed outside of Ireland.

Green Sleeves is curated by Dr Ciarán Swan and Niall McCormack.

The exhibition runs from 5 May until 1 October 2017. Exhibition extended until 7 October!

Admission is free of charge.

Exhibition sponsored by MCD Productions.

Green Sleeves Symposium

Together with Typography Ireland, the National Print Museum is delighted to announce a one-day symposium on design for music in Ireland. The symposium takes place on Friday, May 5 at the Geological Society of Ireland lecture hall in Beggars Bush Barracks, just beside the National Print Museum.
The event will feature designers and academics speaking about a wide variety of topics relating to design for music, from techno-house Letraset to Irish language letterpress lyrics via Daniel O’Donnell, Gael Linn, punk and much more.
Speakers include: Dr Ciaran Swan and Niall McCormack (curators of the Green Sleeves exhibition), Steve Averill, Conor Clarke, David Donohue, Stan Erraught, Robin Fuller, Rosanne Lancaster, Peter Maybury, Dr Dermot McGuinne and David Rooney.
The symposium is free, but places are limited. To secure a place, simply sign up at https://ti.to/typography-ireland/green-sleeves-symposium

Curator’s Tours of Green Sleeves

Green Sleeves Curator’s, Dr Ciaran Swan and Niall McCormack, will give Curator’s Tours of the exhibition on the following dates:

  • Saturday 13 May, 14.30  
  • Saturday 27 May, 14.30
  • Saturday 10 June, 14.30
  • Saturday 24 June, 14.30
  • One final date to follow in September!

Admission is free, however booking is essential, as places are limited.

Contact education@nationalprintmuseum.ie to reserve a place on one of the above tour dates.

The Typographic Dante

Barrie Tullett, University of Lincoln

The Divine Comedy is a poem by Dante Alighieri. Written between 1308 and 1320, it describes Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, and, at a deeper level, represents the souls journey towards God. The Typographic Dante is a series of typographic illustrations created as a response to this unfolding narrative. Each Canto being illustrated typographically, and each book of the Divine Comedy having a different typographic style.

This is an on-going project by Barrie Tullett, Programme Leader for Graphic Design at the University of Lincoln, that will eventually illustrate each of the 100 Cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy using a different ‘obsolete’ technology.The 34 Cantos of The Inferno are realised using the wood and metal type of letterpress printing, the 33 Cantos of Purgatory are created on the typewriter, and the 33 Cantos of Paradise will be visualised with Letraset.

The seed of the project was planted many years ago, but it did not begin to come together as a coherent body of work until Tullett’s final year as a Visual Communication student at the Chelsea School of Art. Ever since, he has returned to the project whenever he have had the time, and has slowly added to the illustrations. This is the first time that all the completed images will be exhibited as a single body of work.

The exhibition runs from 10 February until 2 April 2017.

Admission is free of charge.

2017 Exhibition Programme

The 2017 Exhibition Programme will be announced at the end of January 2017!

Graphic Explorations in Print

32 years of student work from Distillers Press, NCAD

Distillers Press, previously known as the graphic print workshop, had its origin at the National College of Art and Design’s original location on Kildare Street. In the 1980s when the Department of Visual Communication moved to the college’s new location on Thomas Street, the facility was expanded by the then Head of Department, Bill Bolger. Seán Sills was appointed custodian of the Press in 1983.

The Press now has a number of operational letterpress proofing presses and a large collection of metal and wooden type approximately 280 cases of metal type and 110 cases of wooden type in a wide variety of fonts.

It is used by students on a daily basis for creative projects and also as a teaching tool to introduce the fundamentals of typography. Ireland’s first practice-based Masters in the visual arts was undertaken at the Press in 1986; samples of this work can be viewed in the exhibition.

The Press is unique in being the only operational letterpress print facility used on a daily basis in third level design education in Ireland. Over the years Distillers Press has collaborated with some of Ireland’s greatest artists, writers and poets including the late Nobel Laurette Seamus Heaney.

The facility began to be known as the Distillers Press in the late 1990s due to the college campus location in the old Power’s Whiskey Distillery, where whiskey was manufactured for nearly 200 years. In 2005, Distillers Press relocated to the School of Design and reverted back to a purely letterpress facility due to the resurgence of the interest in letterpress printing and the advancements in digital printing.

Distillers Press collaborated with the National Gallery of Ireland on its first contemporary exhibition of Print Art into Art, and the Chester Beatty Library for their exhibition The Holy Show. Work from the Press is collected by private collectors and national institutions such as the Rare Books Section of Trinity College Library, National Library of Ireland and the National Visual Arts Library, as well as many overseas libraries and universities in the UK, USA and Australia.

Graphic Explorations is a showcase of work produced by graphic design students at Distillers Press from 1983 until present day. Curated by Seán Sills, custodian of the Press during that period, the exhibition encompasses posters, books and a collection of ephemera. The National Print Museum has had strong links with Distillers Press over many years, working on collaborative projects and is delighted to host this exhibition. Graphic Explorations has been made possible with the generous support of Irish Design 2015.

Exhibition runs from 10 December 2015 until end of February 2016.

Free admission.

See the What’s on page for further programming details.

A World to Win, Posters of Protest and Revolution

To celebrate the year of design, Irish Design 2015 and the National Print Museum host the Irish debut of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London touring exhibition, A World to Win, Posters of Protest and Revolution.  

A World to Win is an exhibition of posters of protest and revolution exploring a century of posters agitating for political change. From the “Votes of Women” campaigns of the early twentieth century to the recent occupy movements, political activists around the world have used posters to mobilise, educate and organise. The exhibition will comprise of approximately seventy posters drawn from the V&A collection and will feature a diverse array of artists, graphic designers and print collectives. The exhibition is curated by Catherine Flood, V&A Prints Curator.

A World to Win is sponsored by ID2015; Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Dublin City Council; and Aviva Stadium Community Fund.

Exhibition organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

17 September – 8 November 2015

Free admission

See the What’s on page for further programming details.

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Imperfect: Letterpress x 3

Imperfect: Letterpress x 3 is a trio exhibition featuring work from Joey Hannaford, University of West Georgia, Mervi Pakaste, Kansas State University and Jeff Pulaski, Wichita State University. In their letterpress work, they seek to extend their design processes beyond the computer screen. Instead of strictly imposing order, they try to utilize the letterpress medium in ways that encourage interpretation, spontaneity and improvisation. The seductive embossing of the page and textural qualities of the prints add unique qualities to the end results. The physical letterforms become an equal partner in the process as their age and history are revealed. Through this traditional form of printing they tell new stories, in a modern context. Despite working with a common process, each one has a dedication to express an individual voice.

April – May 2013

Free admission

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