All staff from the School of Communication Design were invited to exhibit their personal collection of STUFF. This collection could be one which has been added to over time, bequeathed to them, multiples of objects accrued as a result of habitual buying, a chance encounter at a boot fair.
MOTH: design & death has been interested in working with staff and students instigating projects which encourage enquiry using objects and artefacts as triggers for hidden memory, micro/macro, parts and whole, constructing and de-constructing, a passion for ‘rejects’ and fragments. This projects extends into The Studio Society which seeks to promote opportunities for the community of the Graphic Design Course to share, comment and contribute to the course beyond the curriculum. Over a three week period staff will be sharing some of their collections with you giving insight as to why they have this STUFF and what it means to them.
Senior lecturer / Course Co-ordinator (Stage 1) // BA (Hons) Graphic Design // The School of Communication Design
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” Revelation Chapter 12.
Infant School age 5. I was chosen to be Mary in the nativity play. Dressed in blue, I held my plastic baby Jesus with the greatest care and pride and whilst angels, kings and shepherds spoke their lines, I remained a silent but pivotal presence on stage my importance only eclipsed by the baby ‘Tiny Tears’ in my arms.
Fast forward to the 90’s, my MA dissertation at the Royal College of Art on the The Cult of the Virgin Mary: The Pagan Goddess / The rise of the Cult in the middle ages / Contemporary perceptions of Mary. I’m still in love with her.
Her cult is truly rooted in the middle ages reflected in art and architecture, glorious cathedrals more splendid than palaces built for earthy queens dedicated to her glory. A true Queen of Heaven, whilst retaining earthly humility, as the intermediary between heaven (God) and earth (humanity). The medium through which prayers can be answered and miracles made possible. To enter into a church dedicated to her we symbolically enter into the body of Christ’s mother, this metaphor offers us the same protection, love and possibilities of new beginnings.
The more I studied Mary, the more fascinated I became with her. I visited convents, struck up ‘friendships’ with nuns and went so far as to fill in the paperwork to convert to the Catholic faith. Mary was my intercessor into this fascinating and complex world in all her many guises: Mary the Great Earth Mother, The Virgin Queen, The Mascot in the fight against heresy, The Muse, The Queen of Courtly Love, The mascot of female submission, The Mother of God, Lady of Poverty, The giver and maintainer of life, Mater Dolorosa (sorrowing Mother), Mary The Queen of Peace.
With my head and heart Mary is both a successful branding project by the Catholic Church along with being a Divine Mother. Her origins exist in myth, faith and propaganda, out of a need for true spiritual guidance as well as a mechanism for female suppression in a patriarchal world. Whatever skeptics may think, for true Marian devotees she continues to reign in all her many guises, for them there is no matriarchal image more potent than that of the Virgin Mary and her divine child.
With our fragile planet and the uncertainties it faces, some might argue that we need to return to a world of goddess centered understanding, if we wish to preserve this earth and live in peace. The return of the Great Earth Mother.
Senior lecturer / Course Co-ordinator (Stage 2) // BA (Hons) Graphic Design // The School of Communication Design
Beer Mats / Dice / Stencil letters
Butterfly’s /Slides / Stationery stickers
These boxed collections have been in my possession for 20 years and have escaped the purge of 9 house moves. They weren’t discarded with other disused, out grown items. In their everyday life they sit in the dark amongst the loft insulation, not on display.
What is their value to me? Why have I kept hold of them? When I look through them they invoke excitement within me, hinting at a hidden potential for transformation or applications for unrealized future projects. They were once someone else’s passion, an unknown someone. I have kept them in the boxes they were stored in or that the collector contained them in. I have never wanted to contain them in anything else, to me the storage is as important and part of their journey into my custodianship. The thought of tipping them out into a carrier bag would fill me with horror, but that is the strength of the connection I have with these collections. I think that this reaction is because they reflect a long forgotten passion, someone unknown to me put these collections together and without my intervention, they would surely have become just another land fill item.
What are their untold stories? Who knows? Is it even relevant? I can only guess at it.
The beer mats, of the visits to the pub, of the beers drunk, some unused, picked up and stored away safely in a pocket before being transferred to the shoe box at home. Or a child’s collection brought home by father as a free souvenir in harder times. The dice, an object of chance, for decisions made, fortunes lost or gained, entertaining, full of regret. Each dice has a character of its own with a secret life stories, they have all been separated from their board game families. Orphans of chance.
Senior Lecturer // BA (Hons) Graphic Design // The School of Communication Design
Senior lecturer / Course Co-ordinator (Stage 3) // BA (Hons) Graphic Design // The School of Communication Design
Code–Tool–Surface: Future Forms of Writing
Is posting a Facebook status, writing? Is texting, writing? Is typing, writing? With multimedia changes affecting how we deal with economic, political and social interactions, there is much focus is on how we read information. But how do we write in the first place, and why? What are the tools and surfaces that we find ourselves using? There is substantial research surrounding ‘reading and the digital device’, but what of the gesture that (possibly) precedes reading? And what are the implications on these gestures as a result of these new digital surfaces?
Lizzie Ridout and Dion Star – working under the guise of Code–Tool– Surface with Maria Christoforidou – are collaboratively exploring writing gestures through practice and theoretical enquiry. The material displayed here comes from Lizzie and Dion’s private collections that both precede and support some of the thinking for Code–Tool–Surface.
Lizzie’s collection of exercise books began as a teenager when she visited different towns around the world and became intrigued by the diversity of forms that the lines in a basic exercise book could take. The collection was never a conscious amassing, but grew over the years as she travelled more and as international friends offered up additional examples.
Similarly, Dion’s desk notes have been gathered over a number of years and constitute any message left on his desk, without specific criteria as to form or content. They form a glimpse of a set of voices made solid over time; a series of demands, statements and musings, linked only by the person to whom they have been communicated.
Lizzie and Dion’s joint taxonomies of digital files, both stored on their respective computers and ever-growing, are combined here as an animation. They bring together Lizzie’s portable document symbols and Dion’s book logos into one loop. Both Lizzie and Dion are here concerned with the classification and ordering of two apparently simple icons to reveal diversity and complexity in the surfaces upon, and the containers in which we write.
Senior Technician Software Skills Development // The School of Communication Design
For as long as I can remember there have always been Comics and Comic Books at close hand. Maybe The Beano or Dandy were the first I saw, I can never be too sure. What I am sure of is the first time I realised that Comic Books can be something other than the mischievous tales of a naughty boy and his pet dog.
My older brother and sister had paper rounds at the local newsagents and every now and again they would come back home with stacks of magazines, papers and Comics. The publications that hadn’t sold that week were shared out between the Paperboys/girls as an extra thank you or (more likely), given away to make space. Usually these stacks were a mixed bag of Women’s Own, Just Seventeen and Whizzer and Chips and would occupy an area of the house for a few days before ending up in the bin (no recycling back then!). Anyways, one week the stack had some radically different additions. Hidden within the stack were three Comic anthologies. 2000AD, Warrior and (most notably) issue 1 of SCREAM!
SCREAM! had everything I didn’t know I wanted in an anthology. Gross out horror in A Ghastly Tale, the twisted morality of The Thirteenth Floor and Monster, a story that would introduce me to the genius that is Alan Moore… Point is, I remember it. I remember carefully peeling off the free Dracula Teeth from the cover… I remember the smell of the paper and ink… I remember studying each panel and taking in every detail… I remember reading (and not always understanding) the bizarre stories… and I remember that I wanted more.
So began the collecting, loosing, selling, buying, swapping, lending, giving and reading of Comic Books and Graphic Novels. I’ve got my favourites for sure. Characters, writers, artists, and nostalgia will always play a part in influencing my purchases. I’m always going to have a soft spot for Batman, in every incarnation… Locke and Key is an astonishingly good story and the artwork is outstanding… The Crossed is the most extreme/no holds barred Comic Book I have ever experienced… and Pride of Baghdad is a touching tearjerker that took me by surprise…
But… I do have an overall favourite.
It’s a book I have owned more times than any other book in my collection. It’s a book I buy and then end up giving to the people who say “all Comics are the same” or “Comic Books are for kids” or “aren’t you too old for this?”. It’s a book that relates directly back to that time in ’84 when I turned the pages on Issue 1 of SCREAM! It’s a book that makes a comment on every trope, stereotype, cliché and archetype within the medium. Essentially a Comic Book about Comic Books… WATCHMEN written by Alan Moore with artwork by Dave Gibbons and coloured by John Higgins. By far my favourite and soon to be part of my collection once again.
Senior Lecturer // BA (Hons) Graphic Design // The School of Communication Design
Vintage puncture repair kits
For my twelfth birthday, I was given a new bicycle. This was clearly a big deal for my folks, as they’d talked openly about never buying new and suffice to say I was over the moon and rode it everywhere. At least, for a while.
I’d love to tell you that it was my pride & joy, religiously cleaned after every ride, and the foundation of my interest in things bike-related. As is often true with young kids, my limited sense of the bike’s value (material & otherwise), my ignorance of the sacrifice my folks had made, or the weight of new responsibility entrusted to me was, sadly, lacking. Spectacularly so, in fact – as in less than a year it was relegated to the back of the shed, cosmetically battered, with flat tyres and a rusted chain.
In a moment of brilliance, my Dad decided his now teenage son could benefit from a lesson in accountability, and instead of reading me the riot act, woke me up early one Saturday armed with a selection of odd-looking spanners, some wet-n-dry sandpaper and old rags.
Over the next month or so, we stripped the bike back to its component parts – systematically archiving smaller items and drawing diagrams to aid reassembly (Dad is an engineer by training). I learnt about cotter pins, quill stems, and the ‘bottom-bracketremoval- tool’ that we had to buy specifically for the project. We sanded (or rather, I sanded – probably as some cleverly conceived form of punishment for my negligence) the whole frame & forks, primed and re-sprayed the metal back to its former glory, re-greased bearings, bolted and tightened everything back into place, wound new bar-tape, and then, as the final task – mend the punctured tyres.
I can still remember (almost in filmic slow-motion) picking up the small red & yellow puncture repair tin, opening the metal lid and being totally bemused as to the contents. Suffice to say, I learnt how to fix a puncture, and proudly rode the restored bike for several years to follow. Interestingly, it was only at this point – in its reincarnated state that my interest in things bike-related was born.
During my later teens, I rebuilt three more bikes before leaving home. More recently, I’ve spent time with my own kids going through the same process, and picking off a few choice renovations of my own. Sadly, the original Dunlop repair kit was lost in a house move, and it was only during one of the recent rebuilds (and a chance find on eBay) that I stumbled across a duplicate. Over the past five years (on-and-off) I’ve started collecting more tins (British, metal, with or without contents) with no real urgency or objective. I just like them as objects, and although they currently live in an old shoebox, they are soon to make it into their own custom-made box-frame for permanent display.
On reflection, there is huge value for me in what they represent; the longevity of bikes; ‘closed loop’ design; reuse, repair & recycle (no pun intended); patience as a lesson worth learning; and ultimately the benefits of buying wisely and looking after your stuff.
Head of Graphic Design // BA (Hons) Graphic Design // The School of Communication Design
Cookbooks and recipes
Making, sharing, and discovering food have been central to Bryan’s life and that of his family, as is the case for many. Recipes held in the mind or within the pages of a cookbook rekindle memories of people, moments, experiences and emotions. These ideas are passed down through generations or built through the experiences we have through our own lives and careers.
The collection you see shows books and recipes passed on by grandmother, father and wife, with a further selection (opened) of those Bryan may choose to pass on himself. They are well used, often adapted and changed and show the patina of age and use. Also on display are a small collection of hand written and collated recipes; another form of culinary ‘baton’ used to record and curate. The collection is about food and memories but also one of design anthropology; the rituals, aesthetics and interactions of the world in which we live as individuals and as tribes or families of people.
The collection shown spans over 100 years and alongside the inevitable analysis of domesticity and the role and identity of the cook in post Victorian England, the books also offer a talisman to the impact of historical counterpoints across this time. Whether the effect of world wars, the changing workplace and home, social mobility, gender politics, travel and print and media evolution.
In Isabella Beeton’s book, as a newer 1950’s edition of the original 1861 version, the change in the future of cooking is clearly prophesized in its preface;
“The world, especially since the war, has travelled at electric speed and the changes of time have touched household affairs from standpoints apparently far remote… Increased habits of travel have taught us favourite dishes of other countries, while improved means of transport have brought to our doors fresh food supplies from all quarters of the world, especially from our own dominions”.
The books do chart a systematic development of how domestic cooking has changed and is inspired but importantly, as a personal collection, they chart an individual’s own journey. This may be through family, travel, career experiences or design knowledge.