A Trip to the Print Museum

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Published:  November 15, 2012
Heath Killen
A Trip to the Print Museum

If you’ve managed to pick up a copy of our November issue, and you’ve made your way through the interviews, articles, and dazzling title pages, you’ve no doubt come across a series of beautiful photos from the Melbourne Museum of Print.

Behind the lens of these images is Melbourne based Hilary Walker, who ventured out to the Museum to shoot the series especially for our Print & Paper issue. For those who don’t know, the MMOP is essentially a personal collection of Letterpress machines, metal and woodblock type, and a range of other related materials owned by former typefounder Michael Isaachsen. It’s an exhaustive collection, and Michael spends his days maintaining the machines as well as giving workshops and tours.

Hilary shared some thoughts with us about her experienence at the museum, as well as some details on how she approached the tricky shoot.

The print museum is overwhelming – a number of huge rooms full to the brim with machines, drawers of letters and shelves packed high. Michael gave me a lovely tour which I unfortunately had to cut short so that I could take the pictures. He’s a wealth of printing knowledge and you could spend hours picking his brain and looking through the vast stores of equipment. There was a lot to choose from so I had to pick my favourite objects and consider what was best to shoot in terms of light. Most of the featured shots were taken upstairs where there was lots of clear daylight coming from the large skylights. Otherwise I shot with window light and a tripod. After I’d finished shooting we had a cup of tea and munched on Anzacs which had been toasted in a sandwich press (the print museums specialty!) and Michael helped me make a slug of my name which prints beautifully in stamp form.

We feel privileged to feature Hilary’s poetic and thoughtful work this month – she managed to capture not only the raw, historical beauty of the subject, but also the slight sense of melancholy around it. The collection itself is staggering, but the museum is falling into disrepair. If you’re in Melbourne, or intending to visit, the trip out is definitely worth your while – and it’s an essential visit for designers and design students..

The images you see here are a selection that didn’t make the final cut for print. To see more, pick up a copy of the November issue.

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