This is a personal research article built from email and oral interviews with Phil Day. I have spoken of the Finlay Press at a number of occasions: the Impact 7 conference in Melbourne (September 2011) and at the fine press symposium Adventure & Art (March 2012). It is an important chapter of Australian private press history, but I’ve never been able to find anything written about them in any depth, so here we go:
Finlay Press is a private press established by Ingeborg Hansen and Phil Day. They began printing in Goulburn, NSW, Australia in 1997. In 2001 the press moved to Braidwood, NSW, where they designed and printed numerous publications before closing the press in 2009.
This is an edited version of a paper presented at Artspace Mackay for Artists Books V, (April 2010).
I’ll put you out of suspense: the quick answer is NO – but also YES. It all depends, of course, upon what you mean by the word ‘book’, and this is, in a roundabout way, what we’re all talking about, isn’t it?
Building up a letterpress studio with minimal funds is a slow process that often depends upon luck and opportunity. It’s a lot easier when people are aware that you exist; I get offered type and machines regularly now, but when I first started it was a very different scenario.
The short answer lies here.
In early November over 70 bookbinders from all over Australia came together for the first time in 27 years. The first conference was held in Canberra, and this one was too, thanks to the remarkable energy of Joy and John Tonkin along with a subcommittee of the Canberra Guild.
Melbourne didn’t really behave itself for Impact7; I know everyone makes jokes about the city having four seasons in one day, but to turn on its wettest Spring day in 100 years was just showing off, don’t you think? On the Wednesday, while I was sitting at my folio table showing my wares and talking to people, the sky went pitch black and the inside lights started flickering as lightning and thunder raged outside.
Luckily the conference was mostly indoors (unlike the filming session of Winners and Losers attempting to work on the grass just outside the conference) so apart from a wild wet trip over to another Monash campus for an exhibition opening, we all stayed pretty snug. Continue reading
I was invited to participate in the fabulous-looking Two Fires Festival of Art & Activism at Braidwood, NSW on the weekend of 27-29 March ‘09. Continue reading
A few months ago I watched a remarkable television show: Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press. Maybe you watched it too; because I’m a letterpress printer, I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I saw it. I did: it was part investigation into the way Gutenberg had earned his reputation as the Father of Letterpress, and part documentary about the recreation by a group of British press enthusiasts of a wooden hand press similar to Gutenberg’s.