Interview with Pea Crabtree (aka Lucky Budgie Letterpress)


How did you get involved with Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft?

I taught a letterpress workshop at the museum and let it slip to Lucy, the learning and outreach manager, that my dream was to make huge linocuts and print them with a steamroller. The next thing I knew, it was happening!

Are you excited about printing using a steamroller?

Oh yes, I get to wear dungarees and blow the whistle.

Did you enjoy your day of filming for the campaign at Amberley Museum?

Loved it, especially the bit where we ate custard doughnuts and the film crew told us about their former career making zombie movies.

How much of a challenge is it to produce linocuts that can handle the weight and pressure of 12.5 tonnes of steel?

I fretted for quite a while about the weight of the steamroller and how it might destroy everything we put in its path; to keep the weight factor down to the barest minimum I took an unprecedented decision: not to eat my doughnut until after we had driven over the linocut. That thing they say about suffering for your art? It's all true. As it turned out, it printed beautifully using perfectly ordinary, run of the mill lino.

What are you most worried about?

1) My blood-sugar levels when we go on tour.

2) The weather.

As a printer you must feel a great sense of achievement when your finished work is revealed. What are the benefits of creating work on this scale?

I do – there's a rather large wow factor when you peel the paper back. The scale makes it super accessible; a great spectator sport. And I get to drive a steamroller!

What will be the visual theme behind your designs for the Big Steam Print?

It's top secret. I've entrusted my dog Ernie with the full-size drawings. They're locked in the safety deposit box where he keeps his Billy Joel cassette tapes. Don't bother to check his pockets for the key, he swallowed it.

How do you hope to inspire others through this project?

By example: girl-power dreams do come true, getting involved in art projects is a delicious thing and art is for everyone. My biggest hope is that Billy Joel fans and doughnuteers all over the south-east will be inspired to surpass their/my wildest dreams.

Finally, are you nervous about printing live in front of a crowd?

Of course. Have you read the statistics on chaffing injuries sustained by live performers sporting dungarees? I was at that gig in 1988 when Siobhan Fahey had to retire from Bananarama – saw the whole thing from the front row.

Donate to the Big Steam Print to receive an A3 framed steamrolled linoprint by Lucky Budgie Press, plus a blue tote bag.

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