Big Steam Print Auction

Angie-Lewin-exhb-print-adj2The Big Steam Print events that took place in the summer may be well and truly over, but here’s your opportunity to buy a piece of print history. Many of our Big Steam Print artists have kindly given us permission to auction the original prints created on one of the five event days via eBay. The first batch of prints is now live (see details below), and will continue to be auctioned in small batches over the coming weeks. All proceeds will go to the museum, meaning we can continue to provide keep providing our programme of fun, free, events.

The varying sized linocut and woodcut works were printed on GF Smith 320gsm paper and will be listed for auction at the end of October. With prints from artists including Jonny Hannah, Louise Hayward, Mark Hearld, Anita Klein, Angie Lewin, Linocut Boy, Freddie Robbins, Rob Ryan and Jo Sweeting this is a great opportunity not to be missed.

Prints currently for sale:
‘What strange creatures must be free…’ by Jonny Hannah
‘Brentford Towers from Kew Bridge Station’ by Louise Hayward
‘more more love hours’ by Freddie Robbins
‘Green Man’ by Ben Coode-Adams
‘Augmented Growth’ by Ellen Hanceri

You can arrange to come into the museum during open hours to view the prints by calling us on 01273 844744 to book an appointment, or email You can also download our catalogue below to find out which prints will be going up for sale.

Download the Big Steam Print Auction catalogue

In the meantime, watch out for further details of when the prints will appear for auction.

Big Steam Print Comes to Ditchling

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 16.24.01The magic of printing is usually hidden in the sheds, workshops and studios of printers and designers. The Big Steam Print brings the secret into the open air for everyone to witness as artists and students from across the country come together for the opportunity to print on a giant scale with our vintage steam roller. Join the excitement as the steamroller makes its final outing on Saturday 18 June at the Ditchling Village Fair, with renowned artists including Angie Lewin, Rob Ryan and Anthony Burrill producing their biggest ever prints in a heady haze of steam and printing ink.

The action takes place in Church Lane behind the museum between 10am – 6pm, during which time the museum will be open to visitors as usual (10.30am – 5pm) and will offer half price admission. Ditchling High Street will be closed between 8am – 2pm, and we are advising visitors to arrive via public transport.

The Big Steam Print came about through a crowdfunding project via Art Happens. Three previous successful events at Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre, the London Transport Museum Acton Depot and The Level in Brighton, have seen other print luminaries such as Mark Hearld and Jonny Hannah creating giant works of art. Prints from all events which survive the pummelling of tons of steel on tarmac will form the Big Steam Print exhibition at Phoenix Gallery in Brighton: 6– 21 August.

Here’s the timetable in full:

10 – 11am
Big Steam Print donor prints

11 – 11.30am
David Browne

11 – 11.30am
Downlands Secondary School

11.30am – 12pm
Great Walstead School
Ditchling Primary School

12am – 12.30pm
Ruth Gaskell

12.30 – 1pm
GF Smith

1 – 1.30pm
Anthony Burrill

2 – 2.50pm
Pat Randell
Thomas Mayo

2.50 – 3.40pm
Edward Tuckwell

2.50 – 3.40pm
Rob Ryan

3.40 – 4.30pm
Ben Coode-Adams

4.30 – 5.20pm
Freddie Robins
Angie Lewin

5.20 – 6.10pm
Print Wagon – Aidan
Jo Sweeting

6.10 – 7pm
Jeremy Radvan
Caroline Dunning



Big Steam Print: The Movie

Over the weekend of 23-24 April 2016, print artists created their biggest prints yet at the London Transport Museum’s depot in Acton using a 12.5-tonne steamroller. They’ll be doing it all again on 22 May at The Level in Brighton, and on 18 June at Ditchling Village Fair.

The Big Steam Print was organised by the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft as part of The Village of Type, a programme of events to celebrate the centenary of Edward Johnston’s typeface for London Underground.

Interview with Angie Lewin

angielewinprintHow important is your environment when creating your work?
My environment is vital as my work is inspired by plant forms in their native landscape. I walk each day, often making sketches and taking photographs for reference. I’ll also collect natural elements to use as inspiration in the studio. There are a number of locations that I visit repeatedly over the years, making the same, familiar walks. The west coast of Scotland, Speyside in the north east and the north Norfolk coast continue to be the most important landscapes for me in terms of their influence on my work.

Do the seasons influence your work and mood when creating new pieces?
Yes. I’m very drawn to late summer and autumn when flowering plants have ‘gone over’ and their skeletal structure is becoming evident. I also love the bleakness of bare stems and branches and vibrant berries against the windswept winter landscape. In spring I’m inspired by fresh shoots and the starry white of wild garlic flowers. The lushness of summer foliage is less of an inspiration as the plant structures are less defined.

Who or what are your influences?
The work of Ravilious and Bawden both as artists and as designers as I also enjoy having these two strands to my work – my limited-edition prints, watercolours and collages which I exhibit alongside my design work for [fabric and wallpaper company] St Jude’s and other commissions for products and book illustration. I also look at the work of a wide range of printmakers including Piper, Sutherland, Gertrude Hermes, Enid Marx and Barnett Freedman.

Do you have a favourite piece of work?
My favourite piece pretty much changes from day to day. I think, at the moment, my linocut Sollas Sands is important to me as it depicts where the machair vegetation meets the vast expanse of white sand of the beach at Sollas on North Uist. I visited this beautiful island for the first time last year and am returning this summer to spend more time working there. This print has a different quality as I tried to capture the unique quality of this place.

Other than a steam roller, what is the strangest printing method you’ve tried?
Hmm, I think I’m a bit traditional. A wooden spoon which I inherited from my mother was used to burnish my engravings and linocuts for many years before I could invest in a press. I still use a combination of the press and spoon as I like the quality that results.

Are you looking forward to working to a large scale for the Big Steam Print?
Very much. I already enjoy exploiting the contrast in scale between my wood engravings and a screen prints, though creating a linocut on such a large scale will be a real challenge.

Do you know what design you will be printing yet?
I have an image in mind, but I’m not quite ready to divulge.

You use a variety of printmaking techniques, from linocuts to litho. Do you have a favourite?
I develop my prints from my sketchbook and each drawing seems to suit a certain print process. This means that I don’t have a true favourite. Ironically, considering I’m about to make my biggest linocut print ever, I am currently very interested in wood engraving.

Describe the last piece of art you bought, what was it and who was it by?
A watercolour by Emily Sutton of a gondola boatyard in Venice. We had a sneak preview of this while Emily was working on it and couldn’t resist the finished work. It captures the location so spontaneously and acts as a reminder the time we spent in the city.

Easter Events 2016

Looking for things to do over Easter? Look no further, we have a few things up our sleeve to tempt you along.

Museum Opening Hours
We’ll be open every day over the Easter bank holiday, so why not use this as a good opportunity to check out our Underground: 100 Years of Edward Johnston’s Lettering for London? We also have a wonderful mini-retrospective display by London artist Bob & Roberta Smith, and Signs of Ditchling: a tradition of lettering from 1800 to the present day in our main gallery. Should should the weather decide to behave itself, we have a variety of delicious locally-made Downsview ice cream on sale in our Café.

Big Steam Print comes to Amberley
You may have heard about (or even contributed to) the success of our recent campaign to raise enough money to fund The Big Steam Print, an outrageous plan to take a 12.5-tonne vintage steamroller on a printing tour, creating massive works of art with artists, students and young people. The first of these events will take place on Easter Monday (28 March) at Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre in West Sussex, and will be rumbling along for much of the day between 10am – 5pm. The creative participants will include a mix of familiar names and budding future artists in the making …

Print timetable
10-11am: GF Smith/Pea Crabtree print/Amberley Print
11am: Frances Emerald
11.45am: Claire Perkins
12.30pm: Red Hot Press with Solent University Students
1.15pm: Jonny Hannah
2pm: Rocket Artists – test piece
2.45pm: Local secondary school
3.30pm: Local brownie pack
4.15pm: Amberley print

Easter Workshops
Our programme of fun workshops for children continues over Easter: choose from two Printed Patterned Easter Animal workshops on 31 March (for ages 7+), in which children aged 7+ will be encouraged to get their creative juices flowing to print vibrant animal patterns.

Then we have two ‘Weave on the Wild Side’ workshops on 6 April in which children aged 5+ will using fabrics to create a superb wildlife picture.

You can find more details on our Workshops page, including booking details.



Eight Interesting Facts About Letterpress

letterpress_blocks2Interested in finding out more about the rich history of letterpress? Always wondered where the phrase “mind your Ps and Qs” comes from? Then this guide is for you …




  1. Letterpress is a form of relief printing that originated in the 15th century and was the primary form of printing and communication for more than 500 years.
  2. In the west, Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing the first printing press in the mid-1400s. His hand press was used to print 180 copies of the Bible, 48 of which remain intact today.
  3. John Bushell introduced letterpress printing to Canada in 1752, in the newspaper format. He started the Halifax Gazette which became Canada’s first newspaper.
  4. Iron presses were introduced in 1800 and could print a larger area with less effort than the wooden presses they replaced.
  5. The origin of the phrase “Mind your Ps and Qs” was advice printers gave to their apprentices so they didn’t mix up their backwards-facing lowercase ps and qs while constructing their type.
  6. Printers organised capital letters in a separate case above the small letters; this practice led to the terms uppercase and lowercase.
  7. Due to uneven cooling, large type could not be cast from metal and was cut from wood instead. Cutting wood type was a slow and mechanised process in the 1820s.
  8. Metal type is formed from an alloy of metal, tin and antimony, and cast from matrices in a mould.

An Interview with Pea Crabtree (aka Lucky Budgie)

pea-crabtreeTest-printPea designed the Big Steam Print linocut, which you will receive when you donate £100 (plus a tote bag). Plus, she’s the one who came up with the whole steam-printing idea. Read our interview!

How did you get involved with Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft?
I taught a letterpress workshop at the museum and let it slip to Lucy, the learning and outreach manager, that my dream was to make huge linocuts and print them with a steamroller. The next thing I knew, it was happening!

Are you excited about printing using a steamroller?
Oh yes, I get to wear dungarees and blow the whistle.

Did you enjoy your day of filming for the campaign at Amberley Museum?
Loved it, especially the bit where we ate custard doughnuts and the film crew told us about their former career making zombie movies.

How much of a challenge is it to produce linocuts that can handle the weight and pressure of 12.5 tonnes of steel?
I fretted for quite a while about the weight of the steamroller and how it might destroy everything we put in its path; to keep the weight factor down to the barest minimum I took an unprecedented decision: not to eat my doughnut until after we had driven over the linocut. That thing they say about suffering for your art? It’s all true. As it turned out, it printed beautifully using perfectly ordinary, run of the mill lino.

What are you most worried about?
1) My blood-sugar levels when we go on tour.

2) The weather.

As a printer you must feel a great sense of achievement when your finished work is revealed. What are the benefits of creating work on this scale?
I do – there’s a rather large wow factor when you peel the paper back. The scale makes it super accessible; a great spectator sport. And I get to drive a steamroller!

What will be the visual theme behind your designs for the Big Steam Print?
It’s top secret. I’ve entrusted my dog Ernie with the full-size drawings. They’re locked in the safety deposit box where he keeps his Billy Joel cassette tapes. Don’t bother to check his pockets for the key, he swallowed it.

How do you hope to inspire others through this project?
By example: girl-power dreams do come true, getting involved in art projects is a delicious thing and art is for everyone. My biggest hope is that Billy Joel fans and doughnuteers all over the south-east will be inspired to surpass their/my wildest dreams.

Finally, are you nervous about printing live in front of a crowd?
Of course. Have you read the statistics on chaffing injuries sustained by live performers sporting dungarees? I was at that gig in 1988 when Siobhan Fahey had to retire from Bananarama – saw the whole thing from the front row.