View of Type Scale exhibition.
Ross Bennett Interviews Curator and Graphic Design course leader David Coventon in regard to the exhibition at Camberwell Space Type Scale.
Ross Bennett: You've recently co-curated a show with James Edgar, Letterpress technician at Camberwell College of Art, and Design graduates Benoit Ollive and Frederick Williams. You chose to call the show TypeScale, which embodies a number of contexts. What are those contexts and why do you think they are important to the show?
David Coventon: We wanted to give ourselves a bit of room to examine the work that had gone on at Camberwell College of Arts in terms of student, technician and academic staff works, and to find a title that gave us the scope of work to show some of the applications. We go from the 5pt Grot metal type, the piece that needs a magnifying glass. To the laser cut letterforms that we did for the window. So the rationale for the show became "Lets celebrate what's possible at Camberwell, with Letterpress as a start point". The initial aim was to not make it a completely Letterpress show, although the majority of the work ended up being generated in the Letterpress facility.
Was the name for the show also a term for a tool that was used in Letterpress, a steel rule used by compositors?
Yes of course, I missed the obvious. When I studied Graphics at Newcastle polytechnic we had a letterpress facility and a generation of designers that used the Typescale as a tool. It was also about the time that the Mac, with the little floppy disc drive in the front, was coming in to the college. So we were at an interesting time. I graduated from Newcastle in 1991 and we had Macs for a year but we had also had grounding in using a Typescale. We used it to mark out and measure the point size against leading, and work out the layout in a very manual and analogue way, with literally a sharpened pencil and some typo detail paper. So we learnt with them, but I never commercially used the Typescale.
During the event, we celebrated the Typescale as an obsolete tool of typography. We tried to get some designers of senior years to come do some live drawing with an overhead projector to show how it was used. The people we spoke to were actually slightly nervous about it because it had been 20 to 25 years since they had used one, but also because we only had 3 weeks to prepare the show.
In TypeScale, there were a number of interactive pieces using traditional letterpress processes in an entirely new way. Do you think methods of traditional Letterpress need these new applications so it can continue to further itself in the design industry?
Yeah, we've also been involved in the 'Reverting to Type' show at the Standpoint Gallery. I think it was great that we had TypeScale the week before Reverting to Type opened. The interactive pieces in TypeScale were the real draws of the show. For instance, Jake Hopwood’s printing chair. After seeing the stuff we had carefully selected for TypeScale, interactive pieces and all, the Reverting to Type show seemed a bit like a gift shop. Don't get me wrong, there was some beautiful work and some of it challenging the possibilities of Letterpress, but I think ours was trying to genuinely do something different and engaging.
Jake Hopwood's Printing Chair Utskrift Stol.
Can Letterpress be its own part of the Design industry? I mean, obviously it’s still being used. What was good about the show, by having these interactive pieces, is that you give the viewer a chance to see how it's actually made. A lot of people could see a Letterpress poster and they wouldn't necessarily be able to tell the difference from a digital poster. But with the show you essentially give them a chance to see the software behind it.
Yeah, I think it definitely has a place. But I think, as with all design activity, it's so much about revealing the process. It used to be like the old masters where you would just show the final outcome, but in the last five or ten years, the place of process and the visibility of that process has almost become a selling point of Design thinking.
And to see how much handwork has been done…
Also, the planning. The great thing about locking up type in a press and doing proofs, all the invisible stuff, is making it visible and letting people have a bit of fun whilst making the work. It also gives some chance for mistakes. If you don't quite ink the type enough, you don't get a strong enough impression and it doesn't quite work out as you might initially want, but sometimes by doing that you learn more.
Did the work in the show span across the whole three years of the college?
We had work that had been produced on foundation, right through to post-graduate work. It was also great to have the energy and time of Camberwell graduates Benoit Ollive and Frederick Williams. They had a passion for the Letterpress facility over the time they spent here. We really do value the student’s exposure to Letterpress and we hope that there’s a sense of accessibility, and also autonomy, with the production of ones work through the facility. There are other opportunities for the college in terms of marketing Letterpress itself. There's a widening participation aspect that could be explored a bit more, about getting potential students of Camberwell come in and to interact with the available workshops, sparking that interest in typography and production.
Among Other Things
Fresh Prints: Camberwell Press has been invited to display a range of recently produced publications at the Fresh Prints exhibition – Showroom, University of the Arts London. Please join us at the Private View on Wednesday the 1st of May to discuss and see what we have been working on.
Let's Get Quizzical – Round 2: Following the success of the first, we are inviting you to join us and take part in the second instalment of the Camberwell Press pub quiz, with categories such as: Typography, Animation, Illustration, Film and more to question your creative mental knowledge.
18 February 6pm - 9pm
Camberwell College of Arts
Book launch for I used to be a design student, created by Brighten the Corners, Frank Philipin and Billy Kiosoglou. The launch takes place at Camberwell College of Arts where the inspiration began after a workshop led by Brighten the Corners for the BA Graphic Design students, which looked at the relationship between their student work and their development into professional practice. Find out more about the book and event here.
13 December 2012 09.00 - 18.00
LBi Event Space
To find out more on the event visit the Alt/Shift website and join the discussion online.
4 October - 20 October 2012
Mokita 2: illustration Symposium
16 October 2012 10.00 - 17.00
Le Fil The Filosophy of Making
25 - 28 September 2012
Le Fil presents his debut solo show 'Pop Sculpture: The Filosophy of Making', which will bring the spectacle of pop music into the art gallery context. Camberwell Space will be transformed into a multi-disciplinary platform ready for a pop sculptural reinvention. 'Pop Sculpture' features new songs, ceramics and sculptures created by Le Fil during his art residency at Vanguard Court Studios in Peckham.
Writing on the Wall
14 March 2012
CCW Wilson Road
Into the Fold
24 February - 13 March 2012
Camberwell Press seeks to create and ideal and interactive studio within a public space for two and half weeks. The exhibition will culminate in a publication formed from material generated with collaborators via a series of talks, workshops, design & publishing projects.
Among Other Things
10 January - 10 Feburary 2012
Among Other Things brings together objects, video, sound and installation by four artists who question what it means to produce work through relational encounters with and between people.
onedotzero_adventures in motion
23 - 27 November 2011
2011 sees onedotzero celebrate 15 years of championing the progression of global digital culture and innovation in motion. Programmed in partnership with regular host venue BFI Southbank, this special anniversary will present short films and animation, music videos, interactivity, digital art and everything in between.