Big Fag Press is an artist-run printing collective that’s been independently producing a special limited-run press for about 10 years. They’ve recently moved to a brand new location on the edge of the Jubilee Park in Glebe after receiving one of the City’s accommodation grants – so now’s a great time to get acquainted.
Big beauties like the tenderly named four tonne Big Fag are unfortunately becoming dinosaurs, having been deemed commercially unviable and almost edged out of existence with the efficiency of digital printers. Yet just as some prefer vinyl over digital sound, there’s nothing like the quality of an offset press.
After the unfortunate end of a traditional printer in 2004, the Big Fag (or FAG 104 Offset Proof Press, as it was then known) found its way into the hands of a group of artists who decided to take hold of the means of production by printing their own material.
This was important for the socially-minded organisation. One of their notable projects was the 2011 Green Bans Art Walk and Exhibition, which remembered the brutal struggles to protect the heritage, character and environment of Woolloomooloo, Darlinghurst and Kings Cross and fought to keep urban housing costs low.
Big Fag helps other like-minded artists, designers, activists and anyone with an interest in printing and publishing, to produce large-scale and limited edition prints, as well as hosting emerging artists in its residency programs. It “hears what people have to say – like histories of urbanisation and political movements in Sydney and Australia,” says Diego Bonetto, one of the artists who runs the non-profit firm. Most recently, the group participated in the Other Worlds Zine Fair, which was set up at Central Park as an alternative to the MCA event.
The group recently relocated from the Woolloomooloo Depot to a heritage-listed 85 square metre viaduct in Glebe’s Jubilee Park, with the aid of the Accommodation Grant Program. The accommodation grants are designed to help cultural and community organisations find an affordable base by providing partial or fully subsidised rent.
If you’ve ever wanted to print your own limited-edition work but couldn’t afford it, next month, Big Fag is running a workshop for eight lucky people. It will help you not only get to know how to work a press, but create around 50 one-colour A4 limited edition prints at a good price. On the first day, you’ll find out how the press works, workshop your ideas and develop some sketches – and two week later, after you’ve finalised your work, you will produce your very own print. Head to bigfagpress.org/workshops to book.
You can read more about Big Fag on their blog, or just stop by for a chat if you’re in the area – they’re right at the back of the Jubilee Oval underneath the tramline next door to the Jubilee Park Light Rail Stop.