Foreword to the catalogue
This exhibition celebrates both the making and use of fine lettering, but more than that it celebrates the letters themselves, the alphabet that has been central to the development of our various cultures. Lettering has a powerful place in our world: language, words, meaning and form are common denominators that unite us in our understanding and are capable of great effect. The exhibition is designed to promote the art of fine lettering through the work of members of Letter Exchange, just over half of whom have work on show here. Letter Exchange is unique in being a society in which all letters and all methods of making are treated equally, a common ground where the integrity of the letters and the letterers is crucial. Even with the massive changes brought about by the new technologies the alphabet is here to stay and more important than it has ever been.
Whether written, carved or printed the marks we make live on. They have a life beyond their creation. Their forms convey more than meaning, they give tone, provide atmosphere, are emotive and demand our attention. They are the visual basis for meaning and as such are capable of transporting us elsewhere. The work we do has to have meaning. We can use our own words, or those of others, to further both understanding and knowledge and create beauty in the world about us. We are all messengers, using letters and words as communication, in commemoration or in celebration. What marks Letter Exchange out is the quality of the work; fine art based on sure skill, expert and exquisite craftsmanship and real imagination.
It is precisely these qualities that brought this exhibition into being. The whole project could not have happened without the commitment and imagination of our 53 exhibitors. Exhibitions are very complex and time-consuming to organise and our thanks go to all those who have contributed their practical help, advice and support during the organisation of the exhibition, the catalogue and the accompanying events. Ralph Beyer and Richard Kindersley have given invaluable practical advice and support. Ros Pritchard (Hon Sec), Una Sullivan (Hon Treas) and Ann Bowen have helped with essential details behind the scenes. Jeremy Tankard has kindly provided his Shaker Regular typeface for use in the catalogue. Brenda Berman and Annet Stirling enthusiastically undertook to hang the show, ably assisted by Mark Mills, with support from Chris Elsey, Mark Frith and Philip Surey. Mark Brooks, Ewan Clayton, Mark Frith, Richard Kindersley, Phil Surey and Rachel Yallop will be bringing lettering to life by lecturing or demonstrating during the course of the exhibition. Without all of them none of this would have been possible.
We would also like to thank Louise Beaumont and the Prince's Foundation for their support and co-operation, and we are very grateful to Terry Arber, Daven Chamberlain, East Surrey College and the Hilton Cabinet Company for their additional support.
Special thanks must go to Geoffrey Winston for his tireless energy and skill in producing the catalogue and to Rachel Yallop for her unstinting help and invaluable contributions throughout this project. Our greatest thanks must go to a very special person, Patricia Cornwell, for her extraordinary, imaginative and very generous assistance with the publication of this catalogue. I would especially like to thank my husband Peter for his vision and ceaseless support, despite all the other demands on his time, in making this exhibition become a reality. - Sally Bower Chairman
1st edition 2003, paperback, 64pp, 54 inspirational pieces of calligraphy and letter cutting in full colour, 17 x 24 cm