Lenthall Road Workshop, E8: 1976

Radical and Community Printshops is a new (to me at least) site chronicling radical printers, typesetters, posterists etc:

The presses were part of a network: activists in organisations wrote and designed the books, pamphlets, posters, newspapers and leaflets which they needed to further the cause. Typesetters and printers produced them. Activists, distribution cooperatives and independent bookshops distributed them. And today? Still activists, still typesetters (digital) and a few presses (eg Calverts, Aldgate, Footprint), still sympathetic distributers (Turnaround, AK, Bookspeed) and independent bookshops (eg Housmans, Centerprise, News from Nowhere)… But to a huge extent the internet provides the means for radical communications.

The Lenthall Road Workshop entry is of particular interest – a feminist screenprinting and photography collective which started in Haggerston in 1976.

The entry mentions a film from 1980 entitled “Somewhere in Hackney” which features the collective. I’ve found another entry about the film here which includes this quote:

Lenthall Road Workshop is a print-shop producing silkscreened posters, T shirts etc. It began in 1975, and the workers are quite clear about what it is for: “once you start seeing yourself as a person who can do things then you’re in a position to take control of your life”. In the film we see them working with Hackney Women’s Aid to design and produce a set of T shirts.

Obviously I’d love to see the film some day…

9 thoughts on “Lenthall Road Workshop, E8: 1976

  1. The Lenthall Road workshop was famous (or infamous)! I learnt to use a darkroom there in 1989, possibly 1990, when I was squatting in Broadway Market, through a free or very cheap adult education class. At that time there were still a few community darkrooms left e.g. Hackney Urban Studies Centre (was that the name?) in Lower Clapton Road next to the police station; Chats Palace; and Cameraworks in Roman Road. It was in a freezing garage with a darkroom and a screen printing room

    The workshop was still radical feminist though it felt not as active as it used to be. They had a grant from Hackney Council so vulnerable to politics, I think Council kept cutting their grant and raising their rent till they folded. It seemed like a archetypal example of a self-organised DIY organisation becoming grant funded then not being able to withstand losing that fund. From what I remember (and others may remember better) the council had ridiculous plans to arbitrarily lump voluntary sector organisations (did we even use that phrase then) together to get Dalston City Challenge money (maybe when I first came across consultants). I remember hearing the Council proposed in a public document putting the Workshop together with Laburnum Boat Club into one organisation without consulting them first. It never happened and I think they carried on separately with much reduced grant.

    From the Council planning records a house wasn’t built there til 2006 so not sure what happened on the site until then. I think it was this building here with the pale blue door: http://bit.ly/iHA6Qq

    I am sure others would remember more

  2. So interesting… I was one of a group of three women who took the physical premises on from Centerprise. We wanted to run it as a community arts resource and aimed to get funding from the start. Two of us had worked at Free Form previously and I had learned enough about the ropes of getting funding from the newish Community Arts Board of the Arts Council of GB, and from Hackney Council and GLAA to do that very early on. Self-funding is not a recipe for sustainability and it was never our intention to be self-funded. We had a broad base in the community, including folk such as the striking Ford workers and Hackney Under Fives. We also ran summer holiday programmes for kids. We were involved with setting up the Hackney Girls Project, the Rio Cinema and producing a wonderful little alphabet book for adults called “a is for ‘ackney”. I think the fact funding dried up is inevitable…we never imagined it going on forever.

    • Hi There, I would love to know more about your collective feminist art practices, if there is someone who I could come and meet and learn about all you did that would be fantastic. I am trying to find good art practices to learn from and it seems to me that these kind of projects were brilliant. I would love to hear from you, if you are not too busy.

      best wishes

      Rose Gibbs

      • Hi Rose
        I would be happy to chat with you but I now live in Australia. Many of the others I knew have also left London. I do skype though and would be happy to talk if we can work around the insane time differences.

      • Hi Chia,

        Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I am still very interested to talk with you about the print workshop. I wondered if we might move this conversation to email?here is mine: rosiegibbs@hotmail.com. Best wishes Rose

  3. Pingback: film – Somewhere In Hackney (Ron Orders, 1980) | The Radical History of Hackney

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