Ian Hamilton Finlay. I first wrote about this wordsmith/polymath in December 2010. You can read it here. To add to this, I now show two pieces that have been in my collection for decades. First:
This is printed on card [75mmx220mm] and somewhere I also have a lapel badge. The second item is perhaps much rarer – a screen printed poster [450mmx590mm], with the inscription: Ian Hamilton Finlay / Designer: Jim Nicholson / Wild Hawthorn Press 1967.
A friend from London, UK, writes: “I noticed Station number X had a pair of dice (the Romans were gambling for Christ’s clothes) but that Gill did not have the correct configuration of the numbers on the die. Gill did not know that the opposite sides of the dice always add up to seven. Five is opposite to two, six is opposite to one, and four is opposite three. Ooops. The curse of the sub-editor strikes again.”
Images from my week. These were taken in Brisbane, Australia. The first at a train station – a nice display of cast letters (heavily covered in paint – be great to see that taken away and the true letters revealed once more) representing Queensland Rail and used as a brace for a seat; the second a metal plate in the road covering services – lovely use of the cross bar in the capital A as a functional element for inserting the rod that will remove the cover for inspection; the third some quirky figures (‘biffo man’) at pedestrian crossing. Great to see such inventiveness.
In Brisbane, Australia, last weekend. Having parked the car in an underground park on the South Bank (this information strictly for those who know Brisbane – a wonderful city with a thriving arts culture – so definitely worth a visit when you are over this way [this is not a paid for advert by the way] ) I notice this sculpture.
I am drawn, of course, by the lettering cut into the surface I assume by a welding torch. The piece is tucked away in this location and really does need to breathe in the open air – this would also assist with trying to read the inscription, which, as you can see, is long.
I made out the words printing press. Thank you Mr Snape. But no thanks to the municipal authorities or whoever for, having presumably commissioned such a piece, gave it the insult of this subterranean setting. For more on Michael Snape click Michael Snape
A tradition of fine hand-cut memorials exists in the UK. I was once a small part of that heritage, being commissioned to create bespoke headstones and other memorials for clients. Over the last week as part of a effort to simplify my ever growing lettering collection and archives I came across these images of mine, all made in England and pre-dating 2004 which was when we moved to Australia. I would often use both sides of the stone with the client providing a piece of prose or poetry appropriate to the person being memorialised which I’d carve on the reverse. These three examples show this, the first and third in green slate, the middle one in Welsh black:
I also made this piece for the courtyard of a church in Essex, England. It is limestone and slate.
Alas, there is, as far as I can discern, such a tradition in this part of the world. Maybe I should start one…
Also see this post on Percy Smith. Also see my page on sculptural items.
Two images leapt out at me today while browsing typography now, the next wave (North Light Books, 1994 pbk edition). The first one of machine-generated stone carving (naturally, being a stone carver); the second a font called Prototype, this because the illustration stated it was an amalgam of other typefaces including Perpetua and Bembo.
At the time I did not note the connection and it was only a few moments ago when reading Brnbrook’s entry in Typography, when who how (Konemann, 1998) that I came to realise he was behind both.
Thanks Jonathan and merry christmas /happy new year (if you celebrate that is).
Having noticed recent interest in a post first made in September 2011, I belatedly follow up with another taken during my productive vacation the other month. Regular readers will have noted my comments on Dorrigo (click here if you missed them), but on the way to that township we went through the larger outpost of Bellingen (30.4333° S, 152.9000° E).
It was in this place that I spotted the rather wonderful cast-iron lettering shown here, which adorned, by the looks of it, a late-nineteenth haberdashery shop (the sort of emporium that sold everything to the local population unable to make the trip with any frequency to a city).
Now I have been scouring my books, in particular Bartram’s The English Lettering Tradition from 1700 to the present day (Lund Humphries, 1986) and Nicolete Gray’s Lettering on Buildings (The Architectural Press, 1960) and XIXth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages (Faber and Faber, 1938) and make the observation that what we have here is what the former describes as ‘decorative’ and the latter as ‘Tuscan style’, though most definitely Victorian in origin. (For more on Gray see here.)
Gray writes: ‘Like the Egyptian, the nineteenth-century Tuscan was at least as much an architectural as a typographical invention’. This example shows a range of typefaces from the 1860s and 1870s.
Its origin, she continues, may be traced to fourth century Rome and ‘one of the greatest of letterers, Furius Dionysius Filocalus. The name is undoubtedly a pseudonym and expresses the man’s attitude to his work: conscious, devoted and expressionist’. This example (below) comes from the Catacomb of St Calixtus, Rome and is taken from Lettering on Buildings – a must read for any serious student of typography.
The other images above are taken from Lettering and XXIXth Ornamented (another volume to add to the Christmas wish list).
This is truly appalling. The company behind this atrocity is The Coffee Club. How many indiscretions can you make out? It starts with the miserable lower case w, is exacerbated by the clumsy joining of the h and the m (this is most definitely the work of someone not trained in typography), and crowned by the (deliberate?) religious cross of the lc t. I will not even go there with the question mark, of which it must go down as probably the weakest example since moveable type was set rolling. Let me lay myself down in a darkened room….(Can a reader advise as to the name of this monstrosity of a font.)
PS – there are many other issues with this signage. Feel free to add your comments. It might make a good assignment for a first year graphic design course: “In no more than 1000 words indicate the faults in this piece of typography and indicate how you would improve it”.
…and with a nod to a more famous, if less morally coherent place on the west coast of the USA.
The standing letters, about 1.5m tall, celebrate the opening of a new art gallery near me, named after Margaret Olley (1923-2011). The gallery, part of the Tweed Regional Gallery, in northern NSW, Australia, was officially opened last week to much fanfare – a speech by the Governor-General no less, who had known the artist for many decades and spoke movingly of the artist, her life and her work. As this is not an art blog I will leave you to seek out more on Olley, but click here as a good starting point.
Birthday’s should not go unnoticed, even if it is a blog. After all, behind the blog is a person. The actual third anniversary of All About Lettering was on November 2 and, no, there was no celebration. (2nd anniversary blog here.)
This blog will make 355. I had intended when I began (full of enthusiasm and unaware of the amount of time it takes to write a post, do the research etc) that I would have published 365 in the first year alone, that’s one a day. That hurdle – if it be one – still remains to be crossed, though it draws ever nearer.
The past year has been one of activity outside of typography (I have been completing a postgraduate course) and the frequency of posts dropped away. Indeed in the first months of the year there were none recorded, and yet I noticed that people were still dropping round to take a look.
Thank you, and to those who have been following since the beginning, a very warm thank you for sticking by. I still have a few things to say and illustrate about the marvellous world of print, typography, lettering and design. So don’t go away just yet. When it comes to numerals there isn’t a lot of good stuff around, but on a walk around my neighbourhood I spotted the stones shown here as a reminder that nature does best (though in truth these stones, forming a wall, were placed by human activity). The other illustration is a quick calligraphic doodle of mine.