Thoughts on lettering

Tribute to HM

These flint stones, small, able to be held easily in the palm of one hand, were collected on the south coast of England perhaps in the 1990s. For someone obsessed with time and memory I regret I cannot be more precise. Nevertheless, I did pick them from a beach, and they fitted nicely. At this [undefined and undefinable] time, I was inspired by HM and others like. Some decades later, the flints rest in my Australian garden, and shared.


Sculptural: bodywork

For many years I have created body forms in stone and other media. This is the latest, using Hebel. The piece has been cut with a saw rather than formed through the chisel. About 40cm excluding base.


Workshop in Australia – updated with testimonial

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.

Limestone and slate sculpture by John Pitt
Limestone and slate sculpture by John Pitt

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 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.

lettering sculpture

Michael Snape and cut lettering into metal

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. Michael Snape 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.

Snape sculpture A23

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

Typographic ephemera

Anthony Caro – in memory (1924-2013)

Anthony Caro has passed and as one who admired his work from afar I honour his soul.  Caro 2013

The book jacket illustrated  here comes from a volume published in 2000 about the two sculptors Caro and Chillida (ISBN 0-9678124-0-2, edited and introduced by Andrew Dempsey). The photograph is also taken from this volume.Caro 2013_0001

Opening this book for the first time in many years I find this passage annotated by an earlier self: (Caro is speaking) ‘In England there’s no tradition of forging as there is in Spain. I never felt connected to a tradition of working in steel. I chose to work in steel because it felt contrary to my inclinations. It offered resistance but it was so direct: “put” and “cut”. That direct way of working is a kind of parallel to Manet’s way of painting. Straight to the art, don’t get sidetracked by the craft’ (2000, p.42).

And here he is talking about his first encounter with David Smith in New York: ‘…he used to tell me to spend without stint on my art. He told me he drew on paper which cost two dollars a sheet, which was a lot in those days. I used to draw on the cheapest paper, paper for lining walls or drawers. He said, value your own art above everything, save on your household needs, never save on your art’ (2000, p.36).

What has this to do with typography? Everything and something….I leave you to find the connections. Thank you for reading.

eric gill lettering

Lettering by John Skelton

John Skelton was a typographer, letter carver and sculptor. He was related to Eric Gill, and I have briefly touched on his life in an earlier post. I took some lessons from him when I was beginning letter carving and kept in touch until his death in 1999. More about him can be found here (The first piece is a brushwork I had from him at one of his workshops.)

Elements of Lettering History of Lettering lettering

There are people….

Earlier this year I posted about a slate engraving hung from trees (see here). I rediscovered the piece recently and laid it out on the front lawn, where one of our cats immediately took a liking to it. The slate squares are 60cm, the material from China. The text is not inscribed but was painted on – using gold size and placing copper leaf on top. Effective. The text is from Hamilton Finlay: There are people who go look at gardens and fountains while empires are being overthrown.

lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework

Still point – work in progress

This shows a carving at the earliest stage – sketched direct on to the stone today. The piece is 48cm by 60cm, limestone. Usually the design is drawn on to paper and then transferred. Here I show the imperfections as well as the spontaneity of creation.

The quote is from TS Eliot. I have carved this a few times in my career.


Slate + hung from trees = sculptural lettering

I made this piece a few years ago and exhibited at an open air sculpture festival.

The squares are made from slate, approx 600mm square, and hung with chains from trees.

The text, taken from the French writer and politician, Vicomte de Chateaubriand, reads:

There are people who go look at gardens and fountains while empires are being overthrown

Relevant today as we watch the Middle East disintegrate. (Today I planted some shrubs and herbs.)

lettering lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework

Dante pillar

About 2m tall, this was a piece of white marble that I covered in copper leaf. The letters were made from copper wire and stuck on. The text reads: Love moves the sun and other stars.