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 wonderful day was experienced last week. Here is one comment:
‘What a wonderful, creative and inspiring day we had at the one day Inner Workshop run by John Pitt out at Mossgrove B&B – a perfect setting for such an occasion.
I would highly recommend this day for anyone interested in learning about sculpture and creative arts…the hands-on approach was great and John bought with him a wealth of talent and knowledge that he loved to share with all of us. I can’t wait for the next one.’
5 October 2015
For those who live in Australia, and more specifically Northern NSW, please note I will be running a one-day workshop The Inner Artist on 1 October 2015.
This workshop – being held at Dorrigo, home of the wonderful Don Dorrigo Gazette, the last newspaper still printed letterpress in Australia, (see here for post about the press) – is not about lettering (though no doubt that will crop up in conversation) but about connecting with your creative self.
I will start with some exercises to loosen your inner self, before moving on to introductory 3D work. The afternoon session will be devoted to carving a piece in soft stone.
If you’d like more information write to me through this page or email email@example.com. The cost is $120.
The workshop is being held at the delightful and peaceful gardens of Mossgrove B&B in North Dorrigo. Morning and afternoon tea provided – BYO lunch for a tranquil picnic in the lovely gardens of Mossgrove.
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.
From my archive. This from the Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1992. Designed by Richard Arango, Silver Joy. [Closed size: 190mm by 125mm. Open: 415mm by 125mm.] Note – Here in Australia this week has been less than joyous.
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”.
Thank you to all subscribers/followers over these 4 years. I will post some of my personal favourite posts in the next few days. Keep watching…[image – using discovered Rowney lion printing water colour tube, left second finger, drawn on concrete floor – actual size 170mm by 110mm. (PS – actual drawing for sale including house. Plus plenty of books etc on lettering and calligraphic arts. Apply.)
In itself this object is iconic. It stands 18cm tall, is as tactile as polished stone and sprayed in gorgeous (and brand) red. The distinctive legend sweeps around the middle. As a sculptural item it is magnificent, and it only cost $2 from my local supermarket here in Australia.
However, I lament the waste. Were I to live in South Australia I could expect a 10c refund at recycling points. However, that is the only State in this country with such a scheme. True, my local council provides recycling bins and I could recycle this empty aluminium container – expect it is too beautiful to discard.
I find myself in a dilemma. On the one hand, I admire the thing with a designer’s passion; on the other I curse the waste of a finite raw material: the sheer labour that went into crafting this $2 throwaway; the energy that went into production and getting it from factory to market. And all for what? The contents are hardly sufficient to quench a sparrow’s thirst let alone an adult’s. What then is it for?
It seems yet another example of our contempt for our world: a side-swipe at the less fortunate, a snub at the weak and the poor by a global conglomerate that soaks up resources with negligent ease.
Yet…it sits on my desk as if a tribute. A tribute to what? To the splendour of the imagination. I temper my indignation with the view that at least this container will be preserved and not lost among the millions of others that either fail to be recycled or are, themselves, placed on the shelves and mantelpieces of morally tortured aesthetes.