Letterheads 2018: London Calling is bringing the international signwriting movement, Letterheads, to London for the first time between 16th and 19th August at the Bargehouse on OXO Tower Wharf, SE1. These ‘meets’ are typically closed-doors affairs, but the London expo will provide a rare (and free!) opportunity for the public to glimpse the beautiful sign and lettering work via a free exhibition, demonstrations, screenings, behind-the-scenes tours, and much more. This event is being run by A.S Handover Ltd, Jackson’s sister company, and Better Letters.
What is Signwriting?
Signwriting is the process of painting or drawing lettering and symbols to create handmade signs. It is an incredibly skilled art which requires a huge amount of practice – marks are very precise, well-considered and balanced. Signwriters use a vast variety of materials depending on the surface they’re painting.
There’s a wide programme of events on throughout Letterheads 2018: London Calling – below is a short overview of each major happening.
- The Grand Exhibition of the Pre-Vinylite Society: An 18th Century Revival (free exhibition)
- Peep Show
- About Handover
- Visiting information and Contact Details
1. The Grand Exhibition of the Pre-Vinylite Society: An 18th Century Revival
The Grand Exhibition of the Pre-Vinylite Society: An 18th Century Revival is a contemporary signwriting exhibition that directly references an exhibition of signs that took place in London in 1762. The original Grand Exhibition of the Society of Sign Painters opened on April 22, 1762 on Bow Street, Covent Garden. The exhibition was a satirical display of pictorial signboards, some painted specifically for the show (purportedly by William Hogarth) and some taken clandestinely from the city streets in the aftermath of a sign ordinance that required all projecting signs to be removed.
One of the few surviving objects from the 1762 exhibition is its companion catalogue, which playfully and often facetiously describes the pictorial signs for the 18th century viewer. For The Grand Exhibition of the Pre-Vinylite Society, the artists work directly from the 1762 catalogue to translate the historic descriptions into contemporary lettering and pictorial styles. Each artist in the show interprets a description from the original catalogue by lettering it verbatim, rendering it pictorially, or by utilizing both lettering and pictorial skills.
Exhibition curator, Meredith Kasabian, will be giving a short curator’s talk at 1pm every day 16-18 August. These are free and open to the public. Read more here.
The processes of lettering and signwriting are mesmerising to watch, and there are plenty of fascinating characters working within the field. The public screening room will feature a series of short films on a loop, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn about the craft while resting their feet.
For those interested in taking a look behind the scenes, short guided tours around the ticketed part of Letterheads 2018: London Calling are available. These will allow visitors a brief look at the various workshops, demonstrations and other activities taking place and to meet some of the 200+ guests from 30 countries and five continents that are flying into London for this special event.
6. About A. S. Handover
A. S. Handover is an exceptional quality brush-making business that is a sister company to Jackson’s Art Supplies. The business was founded at the outset of World War II, when brushes were considered essential to the war effort – to the extent that brushmakers were exempt from national service. Over the years it has earned an exceptional reputation as one of the leading resources for professional artists and signwriters – A. S. Handover currently sells one of the UK’s largest ranges of specialised brushes for signwriting, pinstriping, fine art, guilding, french polishing, makeup, specialist decorating and scenic painting, as well as paints, gold and metal leaf, tools and sundries.
7. Visiting Information and Contact Details
Letterheads 2018 is open to the public at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, London SE1 9PH 11am – 6pm (Thursday to Saturday, 16-18 August) and 11am – 4pm (Sunday 19 August).
The event’s dedicated website is www.londonletterheads.com and the hashtag for social media is #LondonLetterheads.
Sam Roberts, Letterheads 2018: London Calling: firstname.lastname@example.org and +44 7989 409046
Meredith Kasabian, Pre-Vinylite Society (exhibition): email@example.com and +1 617 942 0189