Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole
John Edwards, my Dad, was big on re-purposing and as I write these blogs about Thanet Press there will be more stories about this. Printing the image on the galley (see last post) got me thinking about other items in the archive and specifically boxes of spacers and make up gauges that I found in my Mum’s loft and have been storing in my studio for some years. If John was using plates to make other things it followed that he might have cut up plates to use as spacers. Now this may have been common practise amongst the industry, and I am guessing that once a print run or job was completed the plates would need to be stored for future print runs or destroyed if no longer needed.
My assumption proved correct. These almost archaeological finds were there all the time, right under my nose. And although the images were not immediately apparent as most of the pieces were dirty with old ink and years of dust and grime, once I had got used to what I was looking for the images began revealing themselves. I just hadn’t known to look at these little pieces of metal in the right way.
The fragmented images they produce are fascinating. Not quite telling the full story of their origins but giving intriguing clues.
One of the things I love about these images is how perfect they seem, even though they are incomplete. It is as if parts of the images were carefully selected before they were cut down, which I am sure they weren’t and were just randomly cut.
The discovery sent me searching further, back up in my Mum’s loft, with a better understanding of what I was looking for and to the uncovering of more fragments. When printed the plates began to make sense and gradually I could see that some fitted together, revealing more of their story. They give tantalising clues of what Thanet Press was printing. Some look like they may be images for knitting patterns, others maybe for catalogues or adverts. To find their origins may spoil the appeal, but that won’t stop me searching through old knitting patterns in second-hand shops looking for a familiar face from the plates.
And the final plate I found was another almost complete image.