We are spirits in the material world

I’m happy to report that after more than a month of searching, I’ve found a space to house my newly-acquired Golding Jobber letterpress, in the basement of The Guild, two blocks from my house and two blocks from my office. I’ll be sharing the basement space next to the gallery with This Town is Small and its screenprinting workshop and with Wendy Druet and her art classes for children.

It looks to be a great arrangement: none of us need a space full-time, and none of us need all the space. There’s also an opportunity, because it’s a larger space, for me to run the occasional letterpress workshop. The only downside, and it’s a small one, is that there isn’t a lot of storage space, so I may end up splitting my operation into “composing,” here at 84 Fitzroy Street, and “printing” down at The Guild.

Over the weeks I’ve been plumbing my networks, digital and analog, for pointers to spaces, I’ve met some people I should have, by all rights, met long ago. Like George Dow (who showed me the old Dillon Printing space under Leonhard’s Café on University Avenue, unfortunately being used as storage), Chuckie (who showed me the building he owns on Fitzroy Street where Condon’s Woolen Mill used to be), Ken Peters (who’s renting space in the basement of 1 Rochford Street), and Adam and Rebekha Young who are transforming the space formerly occupied by Ampersand on Water Street into a coffee shop cum knitting café cum bicycle shop. Everyone’s been very patient with me while I work to find a space that works in all the ways I need it to work (floor to support weight, ceiling high enough to work, access for movers, affordable rent).

I’ve also become aware at just how little non-residential space there is in Charlottetown, especially downtown: if you have an idea that needs space, whether it be artistic, retail, or light-industrial, there really isn’t much space left, especially if you don’t want to pay a lot of money and/or rent from an objectionable landlord.

The irony here is that I’ve always had a sort of “meh” attitude toward The Guild, thinking, naively as I now realize, that artists and craftspeople should just be able to work, well, anywhere. Now that I’ve got a Big Heavy piece of machinery, I’ve become aware in a visceral way that in the analog world space is a very important consideration for any sort of making activity. So thanks to all the backers of The Guild over the years, and retroactive apologies for my benign indifference.

The letterpress itself is about to start moving closer to town: Griffin’s Service Centre will drive it into McQuaid’s Warehousing on Allen Street where it will be readied for moving into The Guild. I did a tour of The Guild this morning with Austin McQuaid and his son (about the nicest movers I’ve ever met; thanks to Tom Cullen at Purity Dairy for the referral) and they’re in the process of figuring out the best way to wrangle the press into place, and how big a crew they’ll need to do it.

Things are so much simpler in the digital world: I want 32 webservers, I just hit a few keys on my keyboard and, presto, Amazon Web Services is firing up servers for me and billing my credit card; it’s good to be reminded, once in a while, that out here in the material world things are slightly more complicated.


Heather M's picture
Heather M on November 7, 2011 - 23:56 Permalink

Great to hear it has a home. Sign me up for the first workshop!