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Topolski Studio in partnership with Reportager, launch the Chronicle Residency Programme

From 1953-1982, Feliks Topolski hand-printed over 2,300 of his on the spot drawings in his broadsheet Chronicles, covering events from the Queen’s Coronation and the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Churches to war refugees and London street scenes. The Chronicles bristle with comment and observation about the people, politics and events of the time. It was distributed to over 2,000 subscribers around the world including museums, universities, libraries and private collections.

The Chronicle Residency programme in partnership with Reportager, University of the West of England will offer 6 young people the opportunity to train and work together to produce, hand-print and distribute a Chronicle for the twenty–first century, a broadsheet of reportage drawing chronicling contemporary issues, just as artist Feliks Topolski did of the twentieth.

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Topolski Studio’s Chronicle for the twenty-first century will report local issues and events through drawing. The Residents will be supported to draw on location to record what matters to local people and raise the profile of issues and experiences close to the community that are not always treated as relevant by other forms of media. The Residents will gain a three-month apprenticeship at Topolski studio with regular master classes from internationally acclaimed artists and print professionals.

The Residents will work together to plan, edit and handprint the Chronicle using Topolski Studio’s printing press. The Residents will be encouraged to be artistically innovative by using the Chronicle as an intervention in current drawing practices, and to use print as a strategy for social and political engagement. At the end of their Residency, they will host an exhibition of their work and the Chronicle will be distributed back to people in the community who helped produce it, aiming for a readership of 1,000 people per edition.

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The unique perspective that reportage drawing offers on contemporary events will be a way to engage the community with what is going on in their locality - as co-producers and readers of the Chronicle and also, through involvement in our workshops, as chroniclers themselves.

Feliks Topolski’s Chronicles were produced largely single-handedly by the artist, using a printing press at his studio arch near Waterloo station.

They contain over 2300 drawings, depicting his interpretation of the many current affairs of the time. This original broadsheet came out twenty-four times a year, each with its own unique identity but all the while maintaining Feliks’s unmistakable graphic style, satirical humour and compelling subject matter. It was hand-printed, usually on butcher paper, using, at first, an old pedal machine. Throughout the years the Chronicles grew larger and ever more elaborate in scope, content and size, with colour sections in some issues.

Topolski’s Chronicles not only exemplify the constantly productive versatility of his draughtsman ship, the universality of his interests, and the exuberant acuity of his vision, they also demonstrate the artist’s eternal fascination and concern for public life and universal events rather than purely private issues.

Gary Embury

www.topolskicentury.org.uk/residency/chronicle-residency-programme/
www.topolskicentury.org.uk/shop/chronicles/

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