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Art on the go: A Corner Brook professor tows a printing press around western Newfoundland

Art Professor Andrew Testa next to his travelling printing press. Testa takes the press to rural areas and encourages the public to try print making.  (Colleen Connors/CBC - image credit)
Art Professor Andrew Testa next to his travelling printing press. Testa takes the press to rural areas and encourages the public to try print making. (Colleen Connors/CBC - image credit)
Art Professor Andrew Testa next to his travelling printing press. Testa takes the press to rural areas and encourages the public to try print making.
Art Professor Andrew Testa next to his travelling printing press. Testa takes the press to rural areas and encourages the public to try print making.

Art professor Andrew Testa takes his travelling printing press to rural areas to encourage people to try printmaking. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

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 a large bike wheel on one side and a turning crank on the other. In the middle is a small printing press.

Testa, an assistant professor of printmaking at Memorial University's Grenfell campus, is spending his summer dragging his portable printing press to rural areas like hiking trails and beaches all over Newfoundland's west coast.

The project, Printshop in Tow, is taking art-making out of the studio and into the outdoors.

Andrew Testa took his printing press to many rural locations this summer, showing children how to use it.
Andrew Testa took his printing press to many rural locations this summer, showing children how to use it.

Testa took his printing press to many locations this summer, showing children how to use it. (Andrew Testa )

"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 Skinner, Testa's research assistant, brought the printing press on wheels to Gros Morne National Park. They were walking the printing press down the street when a bus filled with tourists drove by.

"A lot of people were eyeing what we were doing and skirting around it and were not really sure what to make of it," they said.

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 creates an image on the plexi material using water soluble crayons and then presses it on to the wet rag paper using his portable printing press.
Testa creates an image on the plexi material using water soluble crayons and then presses it on to the wet rag paper using his portable printing press.

Prints are made by creating an image using water soluble crayons and then presses it on to wet rag paper. (Colleen Connors/CBC )

"Printmaking is really intimidating," said Testa, since presses are generally large, and in studio spaces. "So usually there is a fear that people have when making a print for the first time, whereas one of the things I wanted to show with this press is how fun and easy it is to do."

While the summer workshop series may be almost over, Testa says he isn't done with his travelling printing press.

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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