David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

18 May 2009

Save the Melbourne Museum of Printing

When I turned on the radio yesterday morning it was halfway into a program about the Melbourne Museum of Printing, about it's importance and potential as a working collection (the best of its kind according to the Smithsonian) and it's current predicament. (Artworks_ABC.RN. Eleventh Hour for the Melbourne Museum of Printing - click here) Hence yesterday afternoon's Save The MMOP open day with demonstrations of printing, limited edition prints for sale and a performance by Primitive Calculators.

When the Primitive Calculators first played, nearly thirty years ago, to pull a crowd of typography fans was unimaginable. Apparently, no longer. These days Melbourne has some renowned typographers and a base of interested others. Stephen Banham's Death To Helvetica T-shirts et L! So, there was a big Sunday arvo turn out and it appeared to this observer to be an embrace of generations: the skill and appreciation of those who'd hand set The Argus joining with the bright-eyed prospect of generation Fontographer. I noted this quote writ large on a calender there:
We ought to take a fresh look at tradition, considered not as the inert acceptance of a fossilized corpus of themes and conventions, but as an organic habit of re-creating what has been received and is handed on.
Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy, 1962
One friend, a musician/designer/editor and former master of the bromide camera, scalpel & hot wax said he initially presumed the crowd was primarily there for the band but then decided, no, they were really there for the Type and the MMoP. Yippee! Marvellous Melbourne!!

Inside the MMOP we danced the sardine shuffle, we looked at things, bought T shirts, badges and limited edition prints (below).

We photographed everything in sight.

The toilets were a treat, too. His and hers as serifs and san serifs, every spotless inch covered with the printed history of type and the press.


bLOGOS/HA HA went for the lot: the type, the art, the MMoP ... and certainly for the Primitive Calculators. Do that Dance! Do that Dance!! Doooo thaaaaaaat Daaaaaaaaaaaance!!!

It was great, too, to meet Danius Kesminas at last. He of SLAVE PIANOS (particularly Foreign Knowledge, the documentary monodrama) and The Histrionics.

For me, one unnecessary necessary-act epitomised the total commitment of the MMoP vision. With an eye to every detail, those behind the Open Day project had, along with everything else they'd prepared, made a couple of signs for the outside food stalls, for SNAGS and VEGIE BURGERS.

Most would just write it, surely - one minute and done - but these few sheets had been individually letter set, inked and printed, then taped up like any other, as if no big deal. As if it was the only way. I sure hope they get the patron and support they deserve.