Our Boxcar Talks over the past year have showcased letterpress studios from all over. But there’s nothing quite like Pangnirtung, a small community of 900 people on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, and there’s no one quite like Jenn Robins, who took our Boxcar Plates with her during her Artist in Residence under the northern lights. Jenn, alongside a translator speaking Inuktitut to the Inuit print and textile artists, gave presentations and demos on many forms of printmaking. Jenn has shared her incredible journey and work with us.
Jenn got into printmaking, studying under Mary McCullough, at Okanagan University College. Due to some health issues she studied for 10 years â€“ one course at a time! On her wish list was to see the light of the North, the blue spectrum. After a few trips to the western arctic, she built friendships and became enamored with the land of the North. She completed a 6-week artist in residency in the Uqqurmiut print studio in Pangnirtung, in the Eastern Arctic, where the Inuit artists are known for their exceptional original prints.
Jenn does not claim to be a letterpress printer. She is a visual artist whose work consists of various forms of intaglio and relief printing; her unique contribution to the printmaking world is her explorations of printing and embossing on various metals, using a variety of ink viscosities and the etching press.
Her teaching in the Arctic had to be resourceful with only small amounts of supplies and ink available. Our Boxcar Plates were used as intaglio plates â€“ they are made of thin metal, with a photopolymer surface â€“ and she remarks on how they are a versatile plate, greatly used in a variety of image-making options such as photogravure and relief printing.
The equipment was limited, but was used with fantastic results. Jenn’s homemade miniature UV light box with a tiny 4” x 4” range, and our supply of photopolymer plates enabled her to create several hand-pulled prints and also to give demonstrations of this process to the printmakers and textile artists of Uqqurmiut. Jenn also took the simplest of styrofoam plates created by the textile artists and turned them into exquisite little aquatint hand-pulled prints, using Boxcar plates. Jenn proves that with a lot of hard work and imagination, possibilities are endless.
Jenn teaches at the local colleges, VCA and VISA, and continues to give workshops at the University of Victoria. She’s planning on heading North again, as soon as the chance arises. There will be an exhibition of her work with several pieces created using our Boxcar Plates, alongside her fellow artists, this fall. To read more about Jenn, her experience and a look at many more photos, please visit her website.