I managed to get to TYPA during a brief lul in European COVID spikes in June 2021. I came from London, where juggling precarious jobs, dodgy accommodation and a global pandemic had begun to get difficult. TYPA’s welcoming community, experimental ethos and open generosity was exactly what i needed.
Initially the amount of equipment and the range of possibilities at TYPA was overwhelming. I wanted to try everything, but knew I didn’t have time. During my short stay I did manage to squeeze in some paper making, book binding, darkroom experiments and cyanotypes, but I would have liked to try much more.
Despite my urge to experiment I also wanted to come out of the residency with a body of work. So I concentrated on relatively small scale work and stuck to what I had been developing in my studio practice. For the past couple of years I have been experimenting with mono-print techniques and the large rusty tins of Soviet printing ink were perfect to continue with these experiments.
I also took inspiration from a collection of wood-block letters in the museum, especially one discontinued letter. The latter is called “Yat” and it was discontinued by Peter the Great in 1708. The idea of a “dead letter’ and the emptying of meaning from a system fitted into a lot of what I had been thinking about in my work. I set about making a zine, a flag and a number of mono prints exploring the possibilities of dead letters. I imagined these letters having the freedom to attach themselves, unnoticed by the conventional systems of language, to anything they wanted, this also brought in the oral and folk traditions of Estonia and Britain and they too lay outside the recognised systems of information, I was excited to try and attach flags to lumps of concrete in an absurd act of labelling meaningless things with meaningless symbols, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time or resources to do this. I am still very interested in the idea and I plan to make a larger project our of it. I managed to produce the flag and some prints. I wanted to use the mimeograph machine to print a run of zines, but I ran out of time.
Alongside my own work I was lucky enough to be asked to run some monoprint workshops. I really enjoyed this and learned a lot myself in the process of teaching visitors the basics of monoprinting. I also ran some workshops through Wells Projects, an experimental collective I set up in 2018 from a disused nightclub in Battersea. We ran a map-drawing and model-making workshop in conjuncture with the Lateral Geographies digital residency. I asked members of TYPA, some of the volunteers and the other artists on the residency to join in the 3 stage workshops. We produced a digital immersive environment on Mozilla Hubs where we also held the PV. See more here.
Overall I wish I had stayed longer, I am boring all my friends to death going on about Estonia and the amazing machine at TYPA! I would highly recommend this residency to anyone who has an interest in print, there are so many possibilities and I felt supported all the way through the process.