Andrew Testa bends down and grabs two handles on a device that resembles a wheelbarrow and drags it around his house to his backyard in Corner Brook.
The contraption has on one side a large bicycle wheel, and on the opposite a crank that turns. In the middle is a small printing press.
Testa, an Assistant Professor of Printmaking at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus, spends his summer hauling his portable printing presses to rural areas such as hiking trails and beaches on Newfoundland’s west coast.
Printshop in Tow takes art outside the studio.
“It’s about getting people really excited about making and whatever comes out of that making and showing that anyone can make,” said Andrew Testa.
The project has attracted about 100 participants, ranging in age from seven to 70.
Laine, Testa’s research assistant, delivered the printing press to Gros Morne National Park. They were walking the printing press down the street when a bus filled with tourists drove by.
They said that “a lot of people were looking at what we were doing, skirting around it, and weren’t really sure what to think of it.”
The art-making device certainly stands out, Testa said, but it is surprisingly easy to use.
Testa mostly works with mono prints; the artist draws a picture on using water-soluble crayons, then Testa places a damp sheet of cotton rag paper over the picture and turns the crank wheel to press the inked surface on the damp paper, squishing them together to create a print.
Testa said that printing is intimidating because presses are usually large and located in studios. “There is usually a lot of fear when people make their first print, but I wanted to show how easy and fun it is with this press.”
Testa insists that his traveling printing press is not finished, even though the summer workshop series has ended.
He plans to take it to outdoor areas with other artists this fall where they can talk and create art.
In the fall of 2024, many of the pieces created with the printing press will go on display at the Tina Dolter Gallery at the Rotary Arts Centre in Corner Brook.
“It is just something that’s really exciting … to continue to push the boundaries of what that is and how that works and being able to take a press on a hiking trail or to take it anywhere that I want to go,” said Testa.
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