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Chip Sauce Inks and The World’s Largest Letterpress

Design studio Split explore what it means to be from the North with massively ambitious project These Northern Types – including making what’s been announced today as the world’s largest printing press.

Lots of planets have a north, to quote Doctor Who, and so do all the lands on our very own world – something which Oli Bentley explores in new book series These Northern Types.

The creative director of Leeds-based design studio Split, Oli has been exploring the nature of northern identity in the UK with a series of exhibitions, working alongside a team of makers, printers, metal workers and engineers from across the region.

Their output has been fascinating, with projects like building what’s just been announced as the world’s largest letterpress printing press in the world, printing on lifejackets used by migrants crossing from Africa to Greece, and making inks from chip shop sauces (yes, you read correctly).

“I became fascinated by this vague, community-owned thing we call northern identity, which was my inspiration for this project,” Oli said at the book’s launch recently.

These Northern Types explores these themes, as well as our relationship to place more generally, from a variety of angles and in a variety of styles. I hope it asks some interesting and timely questions about not only what it means to be from the north, but what it means to be from anywhere in today’s globalised world.”

In making the giant ‘People Powered Press’ Oli teamed up with The Print Project’s Nick Loaring and a local engineering firm, creating an accompanying steel typeface designed by the Split team.

The press will be used to print giant posters with poetry by local writers, and then made available to groups that want to use it to explore local themes. In other words, a printing press and typeface for the north.

Another collaborator was Joe Duffield aka No Brand, who’s behind screen printed life jackets as worn by recent migrants from Africa, and the less somber creation of screen prints made with ink from chip shop gravy and curry sauces, both pictured below.

These Northern Types is to be spread across 17 books featuring a wide range of foils, finishes and paper stocks. Alongside the artworks are a variety of written contributions from some of the region’s leading talents, including 2018 Walter Scott Prize winning Benjamin Myers and musician Boff Whalley, offering further insight and discussion around northern identity.