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Library names ‘Makers-in-Residence’

Library names Winnipeg’s first ‘Makers-in-Residence’ for city-wide program

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West WINNIPEG

East Kildonan

The Winnipeg Public Library has named two artists as its first “makers-in-residence,” a program whereby the artists will share their skills with the public through drop-ins, workshops and a collaborative project that will present community stories through their art.

From January to March of this year, letterpress printmaker Sean McLachlan and rapper and beat maker Osani Balkaran will run drop-ins and workshops at libraries across the city, including in St. Vital, St. Boniface, Transcona, Charleswood, and more.

“It’s a really wonderful feeling,” McLachlan said. “When I was chosen, I was quite excited. I remember hearing that there’s quite a few applicants that did come in and to be chosen from that, myself and Osani, I am thrilled to be among the first representation for makers with the letterpress.”

Photo by Cody Sellar

Printmaker Sean McLachlan shows off one of the printed postcards drop-in participants will be able to make during the program.

McLachlan, a resident of Riverview, said he’s been running an occasional drop-in session that he calls “the Letter Peddler Press” in which he brings a press and stamps for people to make their own postcards. He started the sessions following the 2015 Winnipeg Design Festival, so when he learned of the makers-in-residence program, he felt it meshed well with his skillset.

On Jan. 18, McLachlan held his first session at the St. Vital Library on Fermor Avenue. He had a cart full of stamps with images of loons, polar bears, ice fishers, bicycles, the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street, and many others. Attendees were invited to choose a selection of stamps, arrange them on a wooden board with a pencil outline showing the size of the postcard, and then pull the letterpress across the inked stamps to print upon the postcards — a motion that provided a sort of mechanical satisfaction, especially when paired with a result of crisp, fresh ink when the postcard was flipped.

Participants could choose to send the postcard to someone, or to address it to their “future selves,” in which case McLachlan would put it into a time capsule of sorts collected by the library.

Much of McLachlan’s artwork outside the program focuses on the city of Winnipeg. He has printed maps of the city and of various areas around town, often in a sharp, black and white motif. The printmaker said this program is just another way to pay homage to the city he loves.

“The city is very, very good to me, for allowing me to be an artist, and it’s very fulfilling to be able to be an artist in a really supportive community,” he said.

Photo by Cody Sellar

The letterpress printer at work.

Balkaran, who said he lives in the “West End, baby,” also expressed his love for the city.

“I’m excited because I feel like I get to use all my skills that I’ve been learning for a while and use it for the city. You know, I really like Winnipeg, so I feel really proud and excited,” he said.

Balkaran’s drop-ins will centre around beat making on a cellphone, tablet or laptop — although he said even people without those things will get something from the sessions. He’s also going to be teaching writing and recording lyrics.

The rapper and beat maker said he’s looking forward not only to teaching, but to learning, as well.

“No matter what skill level anyone’s at with the apps and the tools that they use, they can always make something that’s really cool and really inspiring. Sometimes people use these apps to make sounds that I never would have thought of making, just because the way they’re using it is different. So that’s inspiring,” he said.

Photo by Cody Sellar

The letterpress printer at work.

Balkaran encouraged everyone who’s interested to come by his drop-ins, no matter their level of experience in music.

For more information and a full schedule of drop-in sessions, visit wpl.winnipeg.ca/library/makersinresidence/introduction.stm

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community Journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at cody.sellar@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7206.

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