Sunday, August 02, 2009
My studio warming was lovely, and very much like a wedding day: I dressed up, said a few formal words, passed on the baton for someone else to say a few formal words, and then spent the rest of the afternoon meeting & greeting until there was no-one left to talk to, while behind me a team of gorgeous people worked hard to make the event run smoothly.
If you have the time (about 15 mins), the patience and/or the bandwidth, and mostly the inclination, the speechy bits are recorded here (big thanks to Rikk!). I don't expect you to check it out, because it's a big file. I take up the first two or three minutes, and then Paul Eggert takes over.
Essentially, I thanked people for coming, mentioned that I'd had a wobbly moment that morning about whether a formal launch of the space was a pretentious idea, and that Zoe had steadied me with a wonderful spiel about how little ritual we have left in our lives and that we need to celebrate important moments, especially when we'd worked hard towards them, etc. Then I mentioned that I'd just finished refurbishing the Vandercook, and that I'd been worried that it would make a lot of noise and disturb my studio neighbour... so I turned on the press and the audience sighed along with me. It purrs like a kitten, so on the spot I dubbed it Kitty (much later on I joked with some stayers that I could call it Pussy, so that the spirit of Betty Slocombe could live on... but I think it will stay Kitty). Then I passed things on to Paul and stood back.
Professor Paul Eggert used to be my university lecturer, and he introduced me to letterpress. Then he became my boss for a whole lot of freelance and highly technical work laying out a series of scholarly editions of Austlit. Along the way he's shown me some amazing books and introduced me to some excellent people. He's been very supportive and collects everything I print. He spoke about all of this and more, and exhorted everyone to buy my books, especially the Nan McDonald volume, which he kindly said was going to be very highly regarded in the future. He said wonderful things while I stood and blushed, and didn't know where to look, because there were a lot of lovely people in the room, and they were all looking at me.
There were colleagues, old friends, new friends, family friends, bloggers, lurkers, interested members of the community (including a lovely lady who serves me in the bank, who took an interest in me when she first processed my weird business name -- thanks for coming, Susan!) and highly regarded members of the printing and writing community. Rosemary Dobson graced the studio, as did master printer Alan Loney and his partner, who came all the way from Melbourne to attend. It was fantastic, and I know there were a whole swathe of people that I didn't get to talk to -- especially students from the art school, who waved from a distance. I guess I'll talk to them during the week. At the end of his speech Paul got everyone to raise their glasses to the press, and we did.
Alan Loney didn't just attend, bearing a gift of his favorite ampersand sort, but he also gave me an impromptu lesson in how to dampen paper for letterpress printing (as opposed to printmaking printing), something I've never come to grips with, and we'd been talking about when we met up a few weeks ago in Brisbane. And then he bequeathed me the sponge, specially cut for the purpose, and which I will treasure.
For most of the afternoon there seemed to be two groups of activity: standing around in the space outside the studio (I cleaned it beautifully) eating and drinking and general partying, and walking around the studio itself, looking at all the things I'd arranged on the walls and on the workspaces. Wonderful Dale from the Sturt Craft School in Mittagong (yes I will mount the Winter School photos soon) came along, bearing the gorgeous little Gillian Broinowski piece I'd bought a few weeks ago when I was hanging around the Sturt shop. It will sit in my studio to remind me to think hard about familiar objects.
Zoe did so well with the catering. She's a top cook, and provided delicious and very warming things. Best Beloved dealt with the alcohol, and I think a pretty good time was had by all. I wasn't the star of the afternoon, my lovely studio was.
I know that it will never be this clean again (I messed it up this afternoon, of course), so I really enjoyed it yesterday.
Oh, I have to go to bed, it's taken hours to sort and upload the photos, and I have a printing class tomorrow. There's more photos in my flickr album, and there's a live-blogged account of our post-party party last night, where we were all so relieved it went well that we drank way too much and got friendly with some lovely Bhutanese neighbours.