Thaddeus Holownia

Largely due to the astonishing body of work he has made with large-format view cameras, Thaddeus Holownia is perhaps best known as a photographer, but he has also made a significant contribution to letterpress printing and private press publishing on Canada’s east coast.

Holownia was active in Toronto in the early 1970s when A Space artist-run gallery and Coach House Press were hitting their stride. There was more cross-pollination between artistic disciplines during this period, and when he took up a teaching position at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, in 1977, Holownia had already begun to consider the ways in which a photographer might employ letterpress printing and book making in his artistic practice. Initially, Holownia assembled a print shop, somewhat surreptitiously, in the basement of the university's library with help from Douglas Lochhead. In 1987, Holownia moved his equipment from the university to his home in Jolicure, naming his imprint Anchorage Press. Since then, its output has ranged from luxurious limited edition books that incorporate letterpress printing from metal type, silver gelatin prints and fine binding to odset-printed photo books, poetry collections, student journals, posters, broadsides and cards. Whatever technology he employs, Holownia's work adheres to a high standard of production and design.

Now housed in a modern studio building on a property once owned by the poet John Thompson, Anchorage Press continues to quietly have an impact upon the community's conception of printing and publishing. A number of budding letterpress printers got their start printing on Holownia's Vandercook 219 proof press while students at the university. Every year, Holownia assembles the matrices and casts the name of each Mount Allison University graduate in lead on his Ludlow linecaster and then handprints it on their diploma.

The Devil's Artisan would like to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

Thaddeus Holownia Magnify

Thaddeus Holownia

Credit: Bob Roberts.