Quirky art created on a vintage typewriter
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Lytham artist Ann Worsnip creates detailed portraits and pictures of landmarks using a vintage typewriter, writes Paul Mackenzie
‘Look closer’ says the sign Ann Worsnip displays with her artwork and when visitors to her stalls at art and craft fairs do, they see how unusual it is. From a distance, the portraits and famous Lancashire landmarks look like pen and ink drawings but Ann’s pictures are created on a vintage typewriter in the garden room at her Lytham home.
‘Typewriters are making a bit of a comeback,’ she said – and she admits she finds it hard to resist adding to her collection which currently contains 16 machines of varying sizes on the shelves of her studio.
Rochdale-born Ann, who had previously trained as a chef, florist and interior designer was working in the art department at Blackpool’s Palatine High School when she first encountered typewriter art. ‘I was constantly looking for inspiration and ways to help children who struggled to engage with art and I came upon an artist called Paul Smith. He had cerebral palsy but used the top row of a typewriter to create incredible art.
‘I used the technique to do some portraits for friends and family and people started asking for things and I decided to do some craft fairs. I’ve been doing it for just over a year, but I’ve been taking it more seriously since about August.’
Ann, who turned 50 in February, works under the name Oi Doris because that’s what a tutor on a screen-printing course shouted at her, having picked up on her accent. ‘I thought it was a fab name,’ she said. ‘I’m a northern girl with a northern accent and it’s nice to have a vintage name to go along with the vintage typewriters.’
Her work now falls into two categories – commissions of people, pets and places, and greetings cards – and she tends to work from photographs and will sketch out an outline before she starts hitting the keys. She will then start with the eyes and work out to the other features and she will often use only the letters in the subject’s name, or a special message. Each piece takes roughly a week and although her art is dependent on old technology, she has been helped by modern equipment and now has a world-wide following on social media.
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She has had her work at craft fairs at Hoghton Tower, Brockholes and in Lytham and will be at Lytham Hall’s spring art and craft fair in mid-May. A three month exhibition at Blackpool Grand Theatre’s stage door bar, comes to an end this month and she was highly commended at last year’s Lytham Art Festival and she’ll be taking part again this summer.
Earlier this year she was invited to showcase her range at Liberty’s of London – she’s now waiting to hear if they’ll stock her range of cards – and she will attend her first trade fair in May where she hopes to attract the attention of contemporary independent shops. ‘I’m already in a few shops, such as Amity in Lytham and Charabanc in Blackpool and it would be great to be in other shops around the country.
‘Going out on your own isn’t just a matter of me sitting at the typewriter, I have to wear a lot of hats – I have to do the admin and the sales and the marketing and that has taken some time to get used to but I’m getting better at it.’