Lightboxes and Lettering’ is a major project focussing on the pre-digital era of printing in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest and the experiences of people involved in the industry. Devised and run by Rendezvous Projects CIC, the project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The project explores how the printing industry has changed with the arrival of digital technologies, and how newer processes have transformed the everyday lives of print workers. Volunteers will be engaged in oral history interviews with current and former employees, and in digitising archive material collected from existing and private collections. Members of the public will have the opportunity to take part in artist-led workshops, using some of the processes and exploring the archive material uncovered by volunteers. The project will culminate in early 2019 with an exhibition and publication, and a website will document the progress of the project throughout.

Printing – including lithography, silkscreen and letter press – has been an important industry in east London for many years. Access to small presses allowed political and community groups to easily print their books, pamphlets and leaflets, and many of these smaller firms were in east London. In recent years, the industry has changed a great deal, with the number of print workshops now much reduced and those in operation working in very different ways to how they would have done just a few decades ago.

The project will map former businesses, record the experiences of current and former employees, and collect printed matter, images of print workshops and details of technical processes. It will offer skills in oral history interviews, archive research and digital media to volunteers, and will share print processes with members of the public.


For more information see the project website

To sign up for the mailing list for the project, click here.


Image above: D. Smith & Sons Ltd, carton makers, 97 Lea Bridge Road, printing carton sheets, 1959.
Courtesy of Vestry House Museum, London Borough of Waltham Forest.