As part of Chapel FM’s upcoming Writing on Air Festival (March 21-24), which explores the theme of “Hearing the Voice,” Chapel FM Art Centre’s young Associate Writers teamed up with Split, a local design studio in Leeds, alongside designer Oli Bentley, to create four stunning posters that emblazon the walls of the Chapel. In addition, copies will be making their way to the streets of Leeds soon.

The posters were printed on what is believed to be the largest letterpress printing press in the world: The People Powered Press. (The official world record attempt is currently pending with Guinness… watch this space!)

The press was built from scratch last year by JKN Oiltools, Batley, for Split as part of These Northern Types. It is now being used for a range of community and design projects – with the aim of amplifying local voices and displaying words with worth across the city and beyond at a size that will be noticed. The posters made on the press by the group from Chapel FM will be making their way onto the Streets of Leeds soon.

Peter Spafford, Chapel FM’s Writer-in-Residence and organiser of the Writing on Air Festival said of the project, “The young writers responded enthusiastically to the challenge of 30 characters on the theme of Voice and came up with some brilliant material.”

Letterpress printing is one of the oldest printing process in the world, dating back to the 1600s. This traditional printing method uses individual wood or metal letters that were put together to print the pages of books, leaflets and posters. Mixing old and new technologies, our posters were first printed on the press using MDF shapes that had been laser cut to make three layers of colour, before being overprinted in silver with the typeface Graft, designed by Split for the People Powered Press and inspired by the industrial heritage of the North.

“It was a real privilege to work with the young writers from ELFM,” noted Oli Bentley, adding, “The group’s had some fantastic words, so it was hard to choose just a few to print with, but the quality of the words helped make the process of designing the pieces much simpler.”

“I’m a particular fan of the phrase ‘we are free, falling’,” said Bentley. “For me, Cal [Mardy] has managed in this short phrase to articulate the current political dilemmas we face as a free democratic society, whilst also being a perfect articulation of all existential dilemmas really. Not bad in four words! Printing the silver posters for ‘articulate your silence’ was also really fun to do, when (well, on the second attempt that is, after some mishaps!) We printed a set of posters fading out from solid silver to almost nothing that I hope helps bring another dimension to the words and was one of those ideas that comes from getting on your feet printing, away from the computer screen.”

Peter Spafford added, “The actual printing sessions, which over half the group attended, were fun and involving. As a bunch of wordy writers and abstract thinkers, I think we all enjoyed the process of mixing and daubing ink, pulling the heavy roller. Split made it a treat from start to finish.”

Take a look at the posters being created below and come see the ‘hearing the voice,’ inspired posters at Chapel FM during the Writing on Air Festival!

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