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You are here: Home / Conferences / Antwerp 2018 / Programme

ReTyping Europe

Transnational heritage and alternative futures
When Thu 13 Sep 1530
Where Arenberg Theater
Who Clare Bell, Mary Ann Bolger
As a hard Brexit becomes increasingly likely, questions around political and geographical jurisdictions have resurfaced. One grand narrative of the fledgling EEC sought to reestablish a pan-European community of which the early-medieval monastic tradition was emblematic. We examine the typographic implications of this, notably the idea of a “shared history” in the Latin alphabet, starting with an optimistic moment in the 1970s when that heritage was mobilised by designers in Ireland to provide a model of a transnational idiom. Designers such as Liam Miller of the Dolmen Press identified modern elements in the typographic forms of the past to argue that Ireland was not a postcolonial visual wasteland but always, already, modern. In addition, via a “Celtic” form, designers could access a pre-sectarian, pan-European identity that aspired to transcend the realities of the (original) hard border. This paper examines the uses of a common European past in local typographic design and discourse with particular reference to the 1978 Letraset-sponsored “Design an Irish Typeface” competition, folk album covers, and lettering on tower-blocks in post-conflict Belfast. Finally, we consider how this trans/national typographic legacy is reinterpreted today by emerging designers affiliated with Typography Ireland’s TypeClub.

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