Robert Smail’s Printing Works


I have been Artist in Residence at Robert Smail’s Printing Works, a Scottish National Trust property for the past 6 months.  This year marks the 150 year anniversary of Smail’s,  where I have created a series of Broadsides & Chap Books inspired by the wealth of material held in the archive at Smail’s.  Broadsides & Chap Books embody a collection of quotes and paraphrases from Tales from Smail’s, handwritten responses from volunteers and staff connected with the printing works.   The quotes reference personal experiences and stories set within the community of Innerleithen and beyond.


Articles from The St Ronan’s Standard, printed at Smail’s until 1916 have been reconfigured and woven into the Broadsides & Chap Books incorporating the geographical landscape of the Scottish Borders.  The work draws on historical and social exploration using the archives to reference the regions rich tradition in textiles & mills, and the start of the First World War. Broadsides & Chap Books capture a window in the history of Smail’s in the past and the present and form part of a wider exhibition at St Ronan’s Wells documenting the history of the jobbing press up until the present day.

Broadsides historically were single sheets of paper printed on one side with either ballads, announcing events, proclamations or advertisements, often pinned in taverns and cottages.  Chap Books are a very early form of street literature, printed onto a single sheet of paper and distributed cheaply to the working class.

Mills & Mayhem(1)


Exhibition: St Ronan’s Wells, Wells Brae, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire EH44 6RB 01896 833583 25 March – 12 July 2-16

Artist talk: Thursday 14th April 2016 7-8pm St Ronan’s Wells

Broadsides: £70 p&p direct from the artist or Robert Smails Printing Works

Chap Books: £10 p&p direct from the artist or on sale at Robert Smail’s Printing Works

Mills & Mayhem(4)Tales from Smails(5)Tales from Smails(1)
























Further details:

Ouseburn Warehouse Studios & Workshops, 36 Lime Street, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle NE1 2PQ    07981381830

Robert Smail’s Printing Works

High St, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire EH44 6HA


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