Out of Truth by Sue Morris

Out of Truth[1] Sue Morris Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane, Derry-Londonderry June 1 – July 1 2015




Out of Truth is the result of work made during and after my participation in an artist’s residency at the Trükimuuseum (Print Museum) Tartu, Estonia in July 2014. The residency was funded by the Leonardo da Vinci mobility programme for exchanging creative practice across borders and initiated by Cavan Arts Office.


The Trükimuuseum is one of the few museums in Europe dedicated to letterpress. The residency facilitated my exploration of both letterpress technology and the complex role of language in a country that has experienced, in its chequered history, several occupations by neighbouring countries. Most recently, in 1991 independence was again achieved when Estonia seceded from Russia. This followed a peaceful demonstration in 1990 where one third of the population gathered for the Tallinn Song Festival and sang the first Estonian programme since the war.


The residency allowed for a rare opportunity to access both metal type in Cyrillic and a host of letterpresses dating from the mid 19th to late 20th century. The resulting series of text/images developed from overprinting, adding, subtracting and layering. Many of the prints are on ephemeral paper found in the museum, previously a Soviet factory. Alongside the printed work I began writing a journal using a typewriter in the museum’s collection, previously owned by the esteemed Estonian poet, linguist and cultural commentator, Jaan Kaplinski. Unfortunately midway through the residency the script, which was typed onto a continuous roll of paper, went missing. This became The Lost Project and seemed to have resonance in a country which has, several times in its past lost the power of free expression.


Out of Truth, presented at Verbal Arts Centre comprises approximately 30-40 A5 text pieces hung in a grid format and typeset in English (commonly used) Estonian (the national language) and Russian (used by 30% of the population); a series of photographs of the museum’s extraordinary interior, much of which remains untouched since its former days as a factory; and a reconstruction of The Lost Project.



I wish to acknowledge and thank:

Lemmit Kaplinski, director of the Trükimuuseum, for his tireless assistance, enthusiasm and knowledge of letterpress printing and patience in answering my myriad of questions.

Jaan Kaplinski and Tiia Toomet for their warm hospitality and inspiration.

Cavan Arts Office, in particular, Catriona OReilly, for initiating, developing and gaining funding for the programme through the Leonardo da Vinci programme.

Maria Kerlin for twinning Cavan Arts Office with the Trükimuuseum - and her generosity to the participating artists both in Ireland and Estonia.

Michael Walsh for his invaluable assistance in producing the work.

[1] Out of truth: When a book is not cut square (cited in American Dictionary of Printing and Bookbinding, 1894).



27 May 2015


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