by Jess Collins
I recently got the opportunity to work at Clayhill Arts alongside The Letterpress Collective in the Art Of Letterpress course. This opportunity was given to me out of the generosity of Clayhill Arts who contacted the university I study at, looking for a student to join the course, fees paid for.
Being interested in printmaking myself, I could not wait to gain more knowledge about this practice, so I immediately agreed to join the course.
It was a three-day course with lunch provided, as well as refreshments such as tea, coffee, and biscuits all day round. As soon as I got there, I was greeted by a lovely woman called Deborah who kindly showed me around, introduced me to the staff, and told me more about the history of the buildings.
I had never done letterpress before, but I was familiar with the way it worked. The Letterpress Collective team were extremely supportive of first-time printers and gave us a lot of knowledge on the history of letterpress as well as the machinery used.
On the first day, we worked as a group so that we could gain experience with how letterpress worked as well as being a good ice breaker for the group, which came in handy over the dinner table at lunchtime!
After the first day was done, we were sent home with the task of coming up with some ideas about what we wanted to make and achieve over the next two days. Personally, I was set on making a few experiments for my university project, as well as making something personal for my friends and family.
With these ideas in mind and a bit of experience under my belt, day two was more about working as an individual. Although I love working as a group, I found that working individually gave me a real sense of independence, not only with the course but around the building too.
The staff at Clayhill Arts came into the workshop every now and then to see what we had created which was lovely that they showed a real passion and interest in what we were doing.
Day three was a half-day, only running until 1pm, however, I was offered a place in a separate Copperplate Calligraphy workshop in the afternoon. Of course, I could not say no to this so agreed to stay for the extra few hours!
Overall, Clayhill Arts is an extremely generous place, running courses for all creators as well as giving opportunities to those like me, a university student, who may not have the finances for professional experiences like this.
I am planning on helping Clayhill Arts out in the summer, doing some work experience for them. There was no hesitation when I say that I would be joining them again for another course, as they really made me feel like I was part of a family.
If you are a student looking for creative opportunities, please contact us.