Long time no blog…

… But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy…

In January I got very cross about our government (again) and decided to organise a march in Macclesfield to show support for the NHS. It happened on February 3, a national day of action, and was a great success, with around 500 people taking part. Loads of friends helped with organisation and stewarding. Demonstrators made placards at home or at a Macctivist workshop we ran on the previous weekend. Jo Bell was a brilliant MC.

With the colours and the music/chants/drums it felt like an artwork, creating a fabulous positive collective energy. See the wonderful film of the event here.


Then in March I was thrilled to be part of an exhibition at Townley Street Chapel in Macclesfield. How did it get so dark? was inspired by the ninth-century ritual of Tenebrae (Latin for shadows) which uses candlelight, darkness, silence, spoken word and cacophonous sound. Central to the experience are suffering and redemption. It is also known as the ‘extinguishing of the lights’, where candles are put out throughout the service. There remains one small light still glowing, which is symbolic of hope – a glimmer.


Mike Thorpe, Erika Groeneveld, Rachel Ho, Anita Reynolds and I approached this idea from many different starting points – some with faith, some without – and using many different media – sculpture, ceramics, 2D images, words. Despite and because of all our differences we collaborated to create a collective response based on our own perspectives – political, spiritual, personal – and on the answers provided by members of the public to the question, How did it get so dark?

The response was more than we hoped for: 80-90 visitors on each of the four days and lots of wonderful comments.

‘Better than anything I’ve seen at the Whitworth.’

‘Take your hanky! Would love to see this in a more permanent space. A wonderful collection to contemplate on, reflect & down right feel Arrrggghhh! As well as knowing I’m not the only one…’

‘This should be sponsored to run for a longer period or be housed permanently. It is genius. Felt so emotional but unsure what the emotion was. Just Wow!’

‘Proper art with the ring of truth. A delicious darkness.’

We do hope to exhibit again. Watch this space…


And finally… Last Saturday the Manchester Print Fair was held at Manchester Cathedral and our very own Print Mill was very pleased and excited to have been awarded a stall. We had a fabulous day, making badges with folks young and not-so-young, selling prints, cards and poems, and chatting to customers and other makers. It was a beautiful setting and all the colours of the various stalls made the space spectacular.


Next time: The reprint of my pamphlet… in new colours!

Print, fold, press, bind, trim… and launch!

So the many-staged process of making a physical object began… Those who know me know of my great love for medieval manuscripts. Beyond the beauty of their colours, I like the interplay of visual images and text and wanted some form of illustration for my pamphlet. Lili Holland-Fricke, my daughter, created wonderful circular pen drawings to chime with some of the poems. This for example for the poem that provides the pamphlet’s title: ‘She Fell in Love from Twenty-Four Miles Up’…

She Fell In Love Illustration
© Lili Holland-Fricke 2017


I’d chosen a font – PT Serif – and laid out the poems. Adding the illustrations made me shift the text around a bit until the balance looked right.

I printed the inside pages first, letting the ink dry on each side before printing the reverse. The Risograph requires gentle handling… 🙂


The cover I’d designed had four colours – blue, red, green and black – so each cover had to go through the Risograph four times.


Again, each colour had to be allowed to dry before the next one went on ‘on top’. And printing the blue meant printing each cover individually so the ink wouldn’t smudge on the next sheet coming through…


Then came the long but meditative process of folding – one sheet at a time. The covers had to be scored with a bone folder before folding to ensure a clean line. My advisor in this process was the lovely Rory Clifford, graphic designer and colleague at the Print Mill. He also showed me how to stitch the pamphlets by hand after rubbing the thread with beeswax. We decided to produce a limited edition of 25 stitched pamphlets – most of these were stitched by Rory.


The rest I stapled efficiently and prosaically. 🙂 Next the pamphlets had to be clamped under a board to press them flat – I did them in batches of five – then trimmed with a craft knife against a steel rule to remove the uneven edges. Then, barely 10 days later, they were finished…

20170915_121955 2


Now came the lovely and terrifying bit – sharing the pamphlet with the world. The launch was in the beautiful King Edward Street Chapel in Macclesfield.

King Edward Street Chapel

Lili Holland-Fricke played the cello as people arrived and then Jo Bell did a fabulous job of MC’ing, as always, making everyone laugh and feel welcome, and reading a few of her fabulous poems.

Jo Bell

Just over thirty people had come to celebrate with us and the warm friendly atmosphere meant that I wasn’t all that nervous in the end.


I got to sign my name as an author. 🙂


And then Twenty-Four Miles Up was well and truly launched and a few of us went to eat chips to celebrate at Waters Green Fish Bar. Tel even gave me a special shiny fork in celebration.


And so, on to the next project or several… Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to buy a copy of Twenty-Four Miles Up, email me at hello@moormaidpress.co.uk. Copies are £5 each, UK P&P is £1.50. Just let me know if you’d like to pay by Paypal or cheque.


Hello. I’ve never felt the need to blog before but now, here I am, preparing to add a few of my words to the oh-so-many already out there…

Over the next seven months or so these posts will cover my current venture — writing, designing and printing a poetry pamphlet. I’m very excited, and very grateful, to have been awarded an Arts Council Grant for the Arts and want to document the various stages of the project.

One of the brilliant things is the great people I’ll get to work with. I will be mentored by Mimi Khalvati (mimikhalvati.co.uk), talk about sequencing with Jo Bell (belljarblog.wordpress.com) and learn how to use a risograph with Lisa Lorenz (nous-magazine.de). I will print the pamphlet myself at the wonderful Print Mill in Macclesfield (facebook.com/pg/theprintmillmacc, home to creative types EllieMollyRalph and Rory.

I’m thrilled to have a studio at the Print Mill to write and design in. It even has a view of my beloved hills.


I’ll be posting updates once a month or so – maybe more often if I get over-excited occasionally. You can follow me on twitter if you like… @ailsaholland.

Let the work begin!


(Anyone who’s interested in stuff I’ve done up till now can find information on moormaidpress.co.uk. It includes performances, publications and projects including poems on streets; word art; a woven poem; and two free libraries — one in Macclesfield, and one on the border of the Peak District. There’s also a link to a photo-poem blog, ailsaandlisa.wordpress.com.)