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

Three pictures leaning against a white wall showing contemporary lettering design and music
The Lettering Arts Trust at Snape Maltings, near Aldeburgh, is currently hosting a show of contemporary type design at the Snape Maltings Concert Hall Gallery – specifically on the relationship between contemporary lettering design and music. Pictured: Bach 1, 2, 3 and 4, by Philip Surey
(Image credit: Philip Surey)

'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.'

Black sign with writing on

Sarah Harrison, executive director of the 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 [Snape] Proms’

(Image credit: The Lettering Arts Trust, Snape Maltings)

Split picture with two different poems on

The musicality of the lettering sings through, particularly in the light-hearted, colourful works from Charlotte Howarth and the concrete poetry of Annet Stirling’s seasonal prints. Pictured left: Spring, by Annet Stirling. Right: All Shall Be Well, by Charlotte Howarth

(Image credit: The Lettering Arts Trust, Snape Maltings)

White stone with writing on

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. Pictured: Roman, by Annet Stirling

(Image credit: The Lettering Arts Trust, Snape Maltings)

Grey stone with ABIDE carved in white

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 explains. Pictured: A B C D E, by Christopher Elsey

(Image credit: The Lettering Arts Trust, Snape Maltings)

The curator, Giles Macdonald, adds: ’The great thing about exhibitions like this is that living in a digital world, seeing and being in the presence of a physical object is crucial.’ Pictured: Robin – without branch, by Louise Tiplady

The curator, Giles Macdonald, adds: ’The great thing about exhibitions like this is that living in a digital world, seeing and being in the presence of a physical object is crucial.’ Pictured: Robin – without branch, by Louise Tiplady

(Image credit: The Lettering Arts Trust, Snape Maltings)

INFORMATION 

'The Space Between: An Exhibition of Contemporary Lettering ' runs from 29 July – 28 August. For more information, visit The Lettering Arts Trust website (opens in new tab)

Photography courtesy The Lettering Arts Trust, Snape Maltings

ADDRESS

Snape Maltings
Near Aldeburgh
Suffolk, IP17 1SR

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Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.