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Here we'll keep you up to date with news of our design activities - but also with details of exhibitions, events and artists who we're being inspired by.

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Camera Ready 1983 October 25 2016

Matthew Rich, Master Printer at Jealous has just created Camera Ready 1983, a new nine colour screen print which painstakingly recreates a piece of rediscovered artwork from Matthew's time printing fly posters in Manchester for Factory Records and their Haçienda club. Matthew explains...

"I started screen printing in the early nineteen eighties at a Manchester print shop called Community Expression. I printed posters, stickers and t-shirts for local bands and clubs, political groups and the students' union. Our first premises was in a university building on Oxford Road and then I can remember 3 or 4 more places before we moved to a bigger shop called Lola Publicity on Claremont Road in Moss Side. 

I joined forces with the Manchester fly posting crew so as well as being poster printers for the Manchester music scene, we would pick up record company posters sent from London to the Piccadilly station Red Star depot. We would (not entirely legally) paste them all over town, sometimes travelling as far afield as Sheffield and Leeds. Continues below...

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We had a good relationship with local promoter Alan Wise, making posters for his acts the Fall, The Blue Orchids and Nico for the brief time she lived and worked in Manchester. But most of our work came from Factory Records, firstly making fly posters for the original Factory club (AKA the Russell or PSV Club) in Hulme and then, from 1982 onwards, gig posters for the brand new Fac 51, The Haçienda. 

Arriving at the club with a roll of freshly screen printed posters guaranteed free entry, strolling smugly past the queues and some cash in hand to spend at the bar. There were many memorable nights like Einsturzende Neubauten attacking the pillars holding up the roof with a jack hammer, Madonna's first ever show in the UK and William Burroughs on stage reading from his new book, 'The Place of Dead Roads'Continues below...

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Back in the printshop we set out the poster artwork with Letraset, Rubylith and Rotring pens. Shot negatives onto Lith film using a huge horizontal process camera - all brass hinges and ground glass screens - and hand printed onto MG poster paper with very smelly old solvent based inks. No health and safety back in the eighties! 

Many many years later I found this bit of poster artwork in a box in the attic. So many people of a certain age remember that era of the Manchester music scene with such fondness and a few suggested I do something with my bits and pieces of memorabilia. Continues below...

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I scanned the ancient artwork and dissected it layer by layer. The ageing off-white card of the artwork sheet. The palest blue lines (invisible to the camera) of the layout grid, some scribbled notes in pencil, a bit of Tippex covering a mistake and the matt black of the Letraset itself. We definitely ran out of letter Ys but that's fine, make a negative and print off as many new ones as you need.

There's a story here of my journey in screen printing from knocking out one colour posters on the cheapest stock to this nine colour, limited edition print in expensive Swiss water based inks on 100% cotton mould-made Somerset paper."

Find out more about Camera Ready 1983 over at Jealous Prints.

Modern Studies September 15 2016

Our friend and collaborator Rob St. John (who we've had the pleasure of working with on Random Spectacular projects generated from Rob, Tommy Perman and Simon Kirby's Concrete Antenna sound installation) has just released a new album as part of chamber pop quartet Modern Studies.

Their quietly experimental landscape songs are played on analogue synths, cello, double bass, drums, guitars, a wine-glass orchestra and, at the creaking centre of things, a Victorian pedal harmonium. The band came together in early 2015, when Glasgow songwriter Emily Scott recruited old pals and collaborators Pete Harvey (King Creosote, The Leg), Joe Smillie (boss of Glasgow’s The Glad Cafe) and Rob St. John.

Modern Studies have created a short trailer for the album, shot on a Super 8 camera at Port Eliot festival in Cornwall in July 2016, where the band played for Caught by the River.

We'd definitely recommend that you order a copy of the album (on CD or vinyl) via Song, By Toad Records.

BE / ONE February 20 2016

I've been meaning to post something about our friends at Caught By The River's latest audio release on their Rivertones label for a few days. What's been delaying my post is thinking about a way of explaining just how good it is.

I'm still trying to work that out, but as it seems to be (justifiably) selling extremely quickly (the first vinyl edition has sold out) I wanted to get this posted before it sells out completely.

It's the first long player on the Rivertones label and is the soundtrack to Wolfgang Buttress' award winning pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo. The Hive is an immersive, multi-sensory experience inspired by groundbreaking UK scientific research into the health of bees and the audio release is a hypnotic conceptualisation of their life, work and living environment. The musicians involved in the project improvised in the key of C, playing along to a live feed of sounds from the a beehive.

A series of live performances are underway. Luke Turner has just reviewed the Nottingham debut of the Be collective's performance...

"It’s a genuinely immersive experience, as cosy as if we are in the hive itself. Indeed, there’s an old-fashioned wicker hive on stage, just in front of the keyboards. Although bees communicate by vibration, amplified recordings of their activities are audible to the human ear, and the sound of tooting queens and their subjects’ waggle-dancing hums in and out of droning melodica, Tibetan singing bowls, accordion, cello, guitar and occasional vocals." Read in full

There's not much more than I say other than do what you can to get a copy of the CD or vinyl release before it's too late.

This summer the installation will come to Kew Gardens. Find out more

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Grafik on Random Spectacular December 10 2015

We recently had the pleasure of letting Grafik know a little more about our Random Spectacular publishing imprint, looking at its inspiration, our current Concrete Antenna project and what we have planned for the future. Read in full.
Concrete Antenna / RS003

Concrete Antenna / RS003

Concrete Antenna / RS003

Concrete Antenna / RS003

Ultramarine on Northey Island August 02 2015

In early July 2015, Random Spectacular No. 2 contributors Ultramarine played live on Northey Island, a National Trust property in the Blackwater estuary, off Maldon, Essex.

Although the island is generally leased to private tenants, once a year the Trust takes back the island for Castaway, a wild camping experience.

Music has always been an important aspect of the Castway weekends and this year Ultramarine (Ian Cooper and Paul Hammond) performed a live set (accompanied by saxophonist Greg Heath) which included Decoy Point, a track from their 2013 album This Time Last Year, which was inspired by the Blackwater landscape.

You can listen to three of the tracks performed live below.

To find out more about the duo, visit the Ultramarine website. You might also enjoy Ian Coooper's Survey East journal.

LTM Recordings have also reissued a number of early Ultramarine releases.

Thanks to Ultramarine's Ian Cooper and LTM's James Nice for the photographs included here.

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Charles Shearer February 19 2015

We're pleased that we'll be working again with artist Charles Shearer who formed part of our 2010 St Jude's In The City exhibition in London.

Charles was born in Kirkwall in Orkney. He studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen and later at the Royal College of Art, London, specialising in illustration. Charles now teaches printmaking in numerous art schools and works on commissions for books and magazines, such Faber's poetry series.

His work also features on a favourite CD at home, Drever/McCusker Woomble's Before The Ruin

His prints are inspired by his extensive travels both here and abroad.

If you'd like to hear from us as soon as we've added his work to our online gallery, please sign up for our newsletter.

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McKenzie Sawers Duo and Delphian September 21 2014

Classical music label Delphian recently won Gramophone magazine's Label of the Year 2014 award.

A favourite Delphian release is The Coral Sea by McKenzie Sawer Duo.

Specialist online store Presto explains...

"A Robert Mapplethorpe photograph and the playing style of Busoni’s favourite clarinettist - just two of the inspirations behind these six recent British works for saxophone and piano, which are linked by the composers’ relationship to popular music, whether oblique, overt, or antagonistic.

From the pounding muscularity of Graham Fitkin to the blues-drenched melancholy of Mark-Anthony Turnage, Edinburgh duo Sue McKenzie and Ingrid Sawers bring stylistic authority and idiomatic flair to everything they play on this, their debut recording.

Sue McKenzie is a past winner of the British Clarinet and Saxophone Society Young Performers Competition. As one of Scotland's leading contemporary saxophonists she has given UK and Scottish premieres of many new works for saxophone, including those from Gavin Bryars, Graham Fitkin and Amy Quate. Susan is also the leader of the Scottish Saxophone Ensemble and was an Assistant Director of the World Saxophone Congress in 2012.

Ingrid Sawers is in demand as one of Scotland's finest accompanists and chamber musicians, performing in venues including the Usher Hall, Glamis Castle and Scone Palace, as well as widely throughout the UK and abroad."

Purchase a copy of The Coral Sea from Presto or find out more about McKenzie Sawers Duo.

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Water of Life November 11 2013

Available for pre-order and shipping from early December is this beautiful audio/print package from Water Of Life, limited to 300 copies.

Tommy Perman - artist and musician (formerly of FOUND) and Rob St. John - environmental writer and musician - began the Water of Life project in June 2013, aiming to use water as a divining rod for exploring ideas of 'naturalness' in Edinburgh’s urban environment. Water of Life is an alternative travelogue, where water is a conduit for exploring new geographies: field notes from a liquid city.

Recordings made with hydrophone, ambient and contact microphone recordings of rivers, spring houses, manhole covers, pub barrel rooms, pipelines and taps are mixed with the peals and drones of 1960s transistor organs, harmoniums, Swedish micro-synths, drum machines and iPads: a blend of the natural and unnatural; modern and antiquated; hi-fi and lo-fi. Drum beats were sampled from underwater recordings, and reverbs created using the convolution reverb technique to recreate the sonic space of different bodies of water.

The package comprises: a letterpressed folder on recycled card, a 7" record pressed on recycled vinyl and a set of essays by Rob and prints by Tommy exploring the themes of the project, riso printed using soy inks on recycled paper.

Pre-order one of the 300 limited edition packages online and find out more about the Water Of Life project.

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