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Hannah Harkes

Labora

The messy drawer, the one that contains all the unidentified and incomplete type

How long have you been printing?

1990: first body print (probably)
2007-2011: first class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Printmaking
2014: first letterpress print

Describe your first encounter with letterpress

I used to go to an art class every Saturday at Peacock Printmakers, in Aberdeen, Scotland, starting around 8 years old. The workshop mostly produced editions with/for professional printmakers and artists, in screenprint, stone lithography, and intaglio printmaking. Us kids would be in the workshop at the same time, throwing paint around and flinging artistically decorated paper aeroplanes from the balcony. In the corner, there quietly stood a proud Columbian Press, usually untouched. I remember well, one magical morning, someone came in to letterpress print someone's wedding invitations. Drawers of type appeared from a previously unexplored cabinet and the whole thing was very exciting.

Where did you learn?

I learned printmaking at Gray's School of Art in Scotland. Whilst we didn't do any letterpress there, much of what I learned there helps me when letterpress printing. I learned letterpress from Nestor and from trial and error, at Labora workshops (labora.ee), in Tallinn, where I print today and continue to learn. I also learned loads from fellow letterpress workers in Milan last year!

What super power would you like to have?

I guess they'd all come with unexpected negative consequences. I like the thought of being able to turn into an animal, perhaps a dog or a shark. As a vegetarian, I'd have to be able to turn back into a human again, whenever I got hungry.

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

It depends on the mood and the project. I really like to do both.

When do your best ideas occur to you?

In the shower.

If you were to die and come back as a typeface, which would it be?

I'd be in the messy drawer, the one that contains all the unidentified and incomplete type.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Bauman, Z. (1992) Mortality, immortality, and other life strategies. Cambridge: Polity Press
Chidester, D. (1990) Patterns of transcendence: religion, death, and dying. Belmont, Wadsworth.
Davies, D. J. (2002) Death, Ritual and Belief. New York: Continuum.
Lewis, J. R. (1995) The Gods Have Landed: New religions from other worlds. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Palmer, S. J. (2004) Aliens Adored: Rael's UFO Religion. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Partridge, C. (ed.) (2003) UFO Religions. London: Routledge.
Partridge, C. (2015) Mortality and Music: popular music and the awareness of death. London: Bloomsbury.

....I'm studying for an MA degree in Death, Religion and Culture.

If you could study with any printer throughout history, who would it be?

Maybe Gong Xuanxuan with his magical jade block.

If you have your own shop, what equipment do you own?

I'm part of a small team, Labora. We have:
Korrex Nürnberg (1972)
Heidelberg Windmill Redball (1967)
Soviet platen press which we use for diecutting
FAG Standard 510 - currently being renovated
Korrex Stuttgart (1964) - currently being renovated
Korrex Hannover (1953) - currently being renovated
Tabletop platen
Small galley proof press

We also have the equipment for making our own handmade paper, which we regularly print on.

When and where are you the happiest?

On my bike.

What is your greatest fear/worry?

Dementia / war

What’s your day job?

Letterpress printer at Labora.

Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?

Linocut, screenprint, lithography, monoprint, drawing, installation, performance, sound...