May Day: A Letterpress Celebration Of British Folklore

Hand of Glory - Letterpress print by Richard Ardagh (New North Press)

Hand of Glory – Letterpress print by Richard Ardagh of New North Press (Photo: R. Ardagh)

Graphic designer, typographer and printer Richard Ardagh of Hoxton-based New North Press has created a typographical celebration of spring and British folklore. His letterpress posters, along with May Queen crowns of spring flowers and a plaited May pole are on exhibition at the Hand of Glory, a pub on Amhurst Road in Hackney, until mid-June.

The idea for this exhibition was inspired by a visit to Whitby in North Yorkshire during the May Day celebrations. The limited edition posters, handset and printed on Albion printing presses, feature themes from British folklore (albeit in textual form) celebrating the origins of May Day which, in 17th century London, was celebrated by milkmaids and chimney sweeps. The posters are certainly ‘haunting’, featuring Black Sabbath lyrics (as seen in the Walpurgis print) and a Hand of Glory, the mummified hand of a hanged man, which was said to give off a luminous glow only to the holder. In fact, the Hand of Glory poster has been printed with an illustration of the Hand of Glory in glow-in-the-dark ink. 

The Hand of Glory pub is located at 240 Amhurst Road, Hackney, E8, and the posters are also available for purchase at New North Press.

 

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