‘WORKING PRESS: books by and about working class artists’ 1986 – 1996

WORKING PRESS: books by and about working class artists’ 1986 – 1996’ was an unfunded self-publication imprint that was started in 1985 by Doctor Stefan Szczelkun (an artist and retired academic from Westminster University) and Graham Harwood, Graphic Designer:

‘Artists were invited to make a book and to get it printed to include a Working Press ISBN number. The books that emerged from these invitations were given joint promotion through a shared booklist and later a Working Press website by Richard McKeever. Distribution, warehousing and accounting was generously provided by Bill Norris at Central Books.’ (Stefan Szczelkun)

They published their first self-funded titles in 1987. Books published included high profile names like Conrad Atkinson and others who have become well-known like Alison Marchant, Shaheen Merali and Matthew Fuller.

Doctor Stefan Szczelkun and Emmanuelle Waeckerle met in the late 1990s, at the Royal College of Art, where they were undertaking research degrees, and in June 2012 Stefan took part in the BOOKLIVE! conference organized by bookRoom in collaboration with LSBU.

In 2013 shortly after this conference Stefan proposed that he should offer the ‘Working Press: books by and about working class artists’ imprint and associated material to bookRoom who thought it relevant to propose it to the Library special collections already the home of the existing bookRoom collection. The condition  was that we found a way to purchase part of it, that we made the collection and archive available for teaching and research internally and externally, and that he was involved in the process as well as in possible related bookRoom led research projects.

Stefan Szczelkun donated the whole imprint as well as related books and pamphlets to bookRoom. It is now housed in UCA special collection in Farnham available for all to see by appointment.

The archive consists of three parts:
1. A complete set of the Working Press titles published along with the letters and ephemera from running the project.
2. About 80 other artists books that were published or in circulation about this time and provided one context for the books.
3. About 200 pamphlets of a diverse nature that were published or influential at that time and provided another more underground and political context for the WP imprint.

The collection was felt to be of interest to researchers working in photography, journalism and graphic design or interested in Art and Activism.

The collection and related archive is housed in the special collections section of UCA Farnham library.  It is at the disposal of students and researchers. It is currently being digitised and will be shortly available online.

A brief history of Working Press is included in CODE X paper, ink, pixel and screen (bookRoom press 2015)

For more details contact archives@ucreative.ac.uk

Working Press intro

Stefan Szczlkun creative residency

Filed in Research Projects

Posted on November 8, 2013 by