Monday, 20 March 2017

Module 4: Loosely Lettering

Media Research:

The mention of Media and Lettering and Writing really makes my heart sing.  Living abroad for quite a number of years as we did, letters and parcels had a significance that others may find difficult to imagine.  In the early days of this phase we had no telephone, so the letters we received and wrote assumed a very special place in our world.  They were never delivered, appearing through the letterbox and lying to be discovered on the hall floor, but instead came home in a briefcase or had to be collected from the post office whose opening hours,then, seemed a mystery.

Scanning the outside of each letter, recognising the handwriting, seeing the imprint of family and friends, knowing before opening much of the content: the week's routine, a recipe requested and reading between the lines how everyone was.  Such care opening an airmail letter, best to slit it with a knife; the more robust Basildon Bond could be opened with a thumb, the contents unaffected by the rough tears.

The handwriting was as clear as a photograph -- the round upright script of my mother, the quirky tails that spoke of the other side of her personality; my father's sloping and overly compressed hand a residue of childhood illness.  Personality was there too in the brown paper packaging, the individualism of a knot, the thrift of string reused, or the extravagance of layers of sellotape.

In combination with no telephone and a heavy reliance on the post, we also had no, or until the early 1980s, access to British television.  Instead newspapers and magazines occupied a more important place.  A very different life. Now with the internet I can always be informed.  And now, though my children are in far flung places, I can email, even text, write a letter. We need never be out of touch.

Recognising the handwriting, I take care and slit the envelope open with a knife preserving any letter or photographs inside.  Note the lovely irregular torn edge when the cheap envelopes of junk mail are opened with my thumb, in so doing a skyline of mountains, icebergs or sails comes into view, revealing the lining in places pushed and pleated.



A range of envelope linings arranged Wild Geese style.  Their designs compliment and enhance the envelope's use, whether it's a birthday card or utilities bill.  They also advertise or promote a brand.

Corrugated card ridged and rippled, brown paper layers and bubble pack trap air to wrap and cushion a parcel's contents.  The image above also shows a range of sealing structures, tapes and string. Folds enable extra bulk to be enfolded; perforations allow those contents to be released undamaged.  How is it such mundane things exude beauty?


What's on the surface?  Celebratory borders in gold and silver; a moorland scene evoking Yorkshire and all it stands for; transparent windows reveal an address or other information.  Then there are stamps, franks, logos, barcodes, lines and numbers.  All encode information: the where from, where to and time of year -- some strange notation to locate the mail. Advertising, celebrating, it's all there.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post Lesley! Your words are so evocative - sheer poetry. since this topic is so heart-felt for you, I'm sure your work will reflect that wonderful depth of feeling. I look forward to seeing it.