Orchestra of Letters: An Exhibition Celebrating Letters & Music

0206 - 02 October 2017

Lettering Arts Centre, Snape

‘Orchestra of Letters’ and ‘In Concert’ – Two musically inspired exhibitions at the Lettering Arts Centre.

During the summer and autumn of 2017, two exhibitions at Snape Maltings in Suffolk take the theme of music as interpreted by lettering artists, presenting work in mixed media – stone, metal, glass, paper, wood and ceramics.

Exhibition: ‘Orchestra of Letters’

Entry is free, Friday to Monday 11.00am to 5.00pm, 3 June to 2 October 2017.

Opening at the Lettering Arts Centre from 2 June to 2 October 2017, as part of Snape Maltings’ 50th anniversary celebrations for its world famous concert hall, the Lettering arts trust presents “Orchestra of Letters” bringing together a remarkable ensemble of all the disciplines associated with the art of lettering. 36 of the UK’s foremost lettering artists, curated by master letterer Mark Frith, present original works for sale.

The objective is for the exhibition to provide a rich narrative, which celebrates the relationship between lettering, music and the beautiful location at Snape Maltings.

As with an orchestra, the lettering artists’ instruments that create the collective effect are varied and technically different. Here they feature calligraphy, typography, letterpress, laser, oxidation, ceramics, glass, wood and stone letter carving. 36 artists have been invited to interpret the theme of “Orchestra of Letters” resulting in diverse pieces of work that range from limited edition prints to individual sculptures. Taking the comparison with the exhibition’s theme, some works are pianissimo (quiet and reflective), others display the maker’s elaborate coloratura.

Amongst the 36 lettering artists taking part in Orchestra of Letters are works by renowned calligrapher Gaynor Goffe; master letter carvers Tom Perkins, John Neilson, Martin Cook and Eric Marland; graphic designer Mark Noad; letterpress maestro Alan Kitching; stone carver and illustrator Charlotte Howarth. Loaned by ceramicist Edmund de Waal is a vitrine entitled Shadow Stones inspired by memories of pieces of music and the poems of Paul Celan.

In his foreword to the exhibition’s catalogue, curator Mark Frith explains:

“The ambitions in both music and lettering, in terms of composition, are to offer and entice an emotion for the audience to discover. One would consider harmony and balance are the leading lights to this end but please, not as platitudes, the decisions of whether to be quiet or serene, to be strong and robust, and even rebelliously discordant, are deliberate, personal and paramount to the nature of the piece.”

‘Orchestra of Letters’ runs for three months during the Aldeburgh Festival and the Snape Proms, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Concert Hall at Snape Maltings. The Aldeburgh Festival is world renowned for its music.

When Mark Frith set the brief for ‘Orchestra of Letters’ and invited lettering artists to respond, more artists than could be accommodated at the Lettering Arts Centre indicated their wish to participate. As a result a second selection of work entitled ‘In Concert’ will be presented in the main Concert Hall during the autumn.

Exhibition: ‘In Concert’

Entry if free 10.00am to 5.00pm, and evenings when concerts occur, 8 September to 22 December, at The Concert Hall gallery, Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP.

By way of an encore, and a sister exhibition to ‘Orchestra of Letters’, there is an added opportunity to enjoy the dexterity of 27 more lettering artists, in the form of a separate display in the Snape Maltings main Concert Hall from 8 September to 22 December 2017. “In Concert” which brings their work to the attention of concert goers, and the works resonate with the flow, space and intervals that are also conjured in music.

Roger Wright, Chief Executive, Snape Maltings comments:

“The remarkable range of forms and styles in this display is testament to the power of music to continue to inspire us and a true celebration of this special place. Here you will see the results of leading lettering artists listening to music and offering their individual responses, which in themselves will challenge and inspire us to think about their new work and the music which lies behind it.”

Throughout the summer and autumn, coinciding with the exhibitions, there will be a number of masterclasses led by experts in their field, which will cover calligraphy, letter-cutting in stone, print making, and signwriting.

All works are for sale with prices ranging from £450 to £8000.

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