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First Armley Print Fest puts printing in spotlight

A piece of Leeds printing history will come out of retirement this weekend when an Armley museum hosts a word-perfect new festival.

The first Armley Print Fest takes place at Leeds Industrial Museum this Saturday, March 30, and will see local printmakers and enthusiasts come together for an exciting programme of workshops and film screenings.

And as part of the event, the museum’s magnificent 169-year-old Albion Press will be back up and running for a special demonstration of traditional letterpress printing.

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Made by Harrild and Sons of London in around 1850 and used by J Porton printers in Leeds, the press has been careful restored by experts at the museum and still produces beautiful prints.

Assistant community curator Chris Sharp said:

“The Albion Press is a brilliant example of the city’s rich printing heritage and the fact it’s still up and running after all these years just goes to show how much these incredible machines were built to last.

“Almost 170 years after the press was built, Leeds still has a real passion and enthusiasm for printing and there are some great independent organisations doing some fascinating creative work.

“By organising the first-ever Armley Print Fest, we’re hoping to give some of that work a new spotlight and to introduce the next generation to the art of printing.”

Experts will be on hand from the Centre for the Comparative History of Print at the University of Leeds, and before a special showing of Pressing On: The Letterpress Film introduced by the film’s director Erin Beckloff.

Visitors will also have the chance to see drypoint etching demonstrations and get hands on in relief print workshops with Art Link. And more than 20 local printmakers and artists will be selling their work at the event.

Printing was once one of the city’s most important industries, with prominent local engineering companies manufacturing cutting edge printing machinery and equipment.

Early industry pioneers included John Hirst, who began printing the Leeds Mercury Newspaper in 1718. By 1911 printing was one of the city’s biggest employers, with thousands working in the industry in and around the Leeds area.

Armley Print Fest takes place at Leeds Industrial Museum on Saturday, March 30 from 11am until 4pm and is free with normal admission into Leeds Industrial Museum.

Follow the conversation and tag us in your pictures of the day using #ArmleyPrintFest.

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