Musical notes: an exhibition of rhythmic lettering design at Aldeburgh’s Snape Maltings

Musical notes: an exhibition of rhythmic lettering design at Aldeburgh’s Snape Maltings

’If music is the space between notes then inscriptions can be said to occur at the space between letters.’ So thinks our east-Anglian countryside favourite, The Lettering Arts Centre at Snape Maltings; a former barley-malters turned cultural hub that clings to the River Alde. The Centre has caught our eye (and ear) yet again with another stand-out exhibition, ’The Space Between’, which focuses on the relationship between contemporary lettering design and music.

The exhibition is to be held in a gallery room adjacent to the Maltings’ grand Concert Hall, with its warm, wooden beams and vaulted ceiling – the focal point of the locally cherished and internationally acclaimed Snape Proms’ programme of classical, jazz and folk music. Sarah Harrison, executive director of The Lettering Arts Trust, explains how the ’eclectic exhibition’ will ’put the work of these artists, some of them our former apprentices, in the home of the world-famous Proms’.

Diversity is the order of the day: from rising stars to masters at the height of their careers, the pieces range from delicately carved wood and fine inscriptions on stone and slate, to works on paper and hand-made prints. Whatever the material, method or maker, the musicality of the lettering sings through. This is seen particularly in the lighthearted, colourful works from Charlotte Howarth and the concrete poetry of Annet Stirling’s seasonal prints.

The exhibition is about more than creating a visual texture to the musical performances. ’Cross disciplinary exhibitions like this are crucial to the future of lettering design in the UK,’ Harrison tells Wallpaper*. ’While designers today may pay careful attention to the tracking of letters on a screen, this exhibition is vital to show people that the traditional craft of letter carving still influences contemporary arts across the board.’

The curator, Giles Macdonald, agrees. ’Seeing and being in the presence of a physical object is crucial,’ he explains. ’Work and images of ideas are shared online and that’s astonishing and fabulous – it’s something as makers we’ve never had before. It’s only half the story though. Being with the physical object, sharing space with it, is energising.’

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