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Ingenious Impressions at Glasgow Hunterian Art Gallery

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Glasgow Hunterian Museum is currently hosting an exhibition on pre-1500 printed books, known as incunabula. In my previous academic incarnation, I used to work on the transition from manuscripts to printed books, so I was obviously thrilled to see this exhibition open in a local museum.  On Thursday I was lucky enough to catch a preview before going to a workshop the very next day. It is fair to say that the workshop turned out to be some of the best and most memorable hours of my life. I cannot thank Martin Andrews and Alan May enough for their generous sharing of all their knowledge and expertise.

Not only did I get to have a go at printing a page from the famous 42-line Gutenberg Bible, but I used a replica 15th C printing press built by Alan May for BBC’s Stephen Fry & The Gutenberg Press programme (I recommend this programme – it was very well researched). May used several near-contemporary etchings and woodblock prints to reconstruct the press as no printing presses from the time has survived. I was very interested in an Albrecht Dürer etching showing a modified two-pull press which Alan May described as fundamentally flawed, yet utterly precise. Dürer is a fascinating figure, anyway, and I like the idea of him having fingers in a lot of pies!

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Another highlight was getting to cast my own type(!) under careful supervision. May & Andrews went through the entire process of carving out a prototype (the very name!), showing us how to develop a matrix from a prototype, before starting to cast types. It was absolutely fantastic.

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And dare I whisper that my next big collection actually has something to do with knowledge-making in Early Modern Europe? Much more on that when the time comes, but it’s a huge thrill that this exhibition has opened up in Glasgow just as the next stage of research begins.

Ingenious Impressions at  Glasgow Hunterian Art Gallery runs from February 27 until June 21, 2015. Free Admission.

4 Thoughts on “Ingenious Impressions at Glasgow Hunterian Art Gallery

  1. How wonderful! That sounds like a fantastic day.

    When you’re next in London, you might want to visit the St Bride’s Foundation, just off Fleet street, to see the Dührer press that Alan May completed last year. I was lucky enough to attend the unveiling of the press and hear Alan talk about how he ‘unravelled’ the flaws in Dührer’s etching in order to work out how to reconstruct the press.

    The St Bride’s Foundation is very eager for the press to be used by experts and enthusiasts alike, so maybe it’s worth popping in on your next trip to London.

    • Karie on March 2, 2015 at 2:12 pm said:

      I think we may have seen the same sketch! isn’t it marvellous to hear Alan May speak? I’ll definitely keep St Brides in mind!

  2. Freyalyn on March 2, 2015 at 7:29 am said:

    Wonderful – lucky you! Just your bag too.

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