Letterheads 2018: London Calling is bringing the international Letterheads movement 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.
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 1 pm every day 16-18 August. These are free and open to the public.
The main reception area will host a variety of craft demonstrations including signwriting, screen printing (where visitors can print a limited edition souvenir poster) and, on Saturday only, the opportunity to participate in the Pop-Up Type Tasting lab.
The Better Letters Glowing Alphabet Peep Show invites visitors to get close and peer inside at the 27 luminescent letters within this modern curiosity cabinet.
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 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 29 countries and five continents that are flying into London for this special event.
Locations & Opening Hours
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).