An exhibition that charts and celebrates the history of printing from the hand laid out letter presses to the modern computer aided design.

It’s very much a display of photos and texts, with a few samples and items to look at – but what makes it fascinating is the human stories told on the walls of the people who laboured in the printing presses.

Print is a curious thing — which we rarely think of as an industrial one, but turning ideas into printed product is a blend of industrial and art as machines are calibrated to turn paper into persuasion.

Printing is also, at times, political — so the display ranges from the purely commercial operators churning out whatever they’re asked for, to the radical printers more interested in supporting causes than making money, and often ending up running out of both.

Many of the firms interviewed for the display have moved around, often the older firms from the City of London to the East End as costs in the city rose, transport improved and physical proximity to the customer became less of an urgency.

Do look for the large map on the wall showing off the hundreds of printers who are based in the East End of London today, it’s still a huge industry that employs a heck of a lot of people. You’ll probably not look at that flyer stuffed into your hand outside the tube station in quite the same way again.

The exhibition: Lightboxes and Lettering is at The Nunnery until Sunday 29th March, and entry is free.


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